“Aging in place” is the phenomena of older adults remaining in their homes as they age, rather than relocating or moving into an institutional setting. In fact, about 75% of adults aged 50 and older would like to stay in their current homes or communities for as long as possible, compared to about half of 18 to 49-year olds, according to AARP.
With age, lifestyle needs change. If staying in your home is important to you, you may have concerns about getting around your home. Getting simple tasks done, including personal care, may seem overwhelming as you age. Whether you’re a future caregiver or a care recipient, the suggestions below can help alleviate worries along with easy ideas to ensure you have a functional home.
Take the time to sit down and think about the types of help you, a partner or a care recipient may need. Everyone’s situation is different, so it’s important to take the necessary steps now to avoid future issues.
One way to plan ahead is to talk to a doctor. Oftentimes, there may be medical conditions that could affect or com- plicate the way one ages in place or even hinder mobility around the house. If you’re a caregiver, it can prove helpful to be proactive. While these may be daunting conversations, it’s important to have them with a doctor and discuss best practices for living in your home long-term.
Another way to plan ahead is to create an at-home check- list of simple design updates that’ll allow a safe, independent living experience. The easiest way to identify what to change is to walk around the house and take note of any- thing that could pose a challenge in the future. Consider door levers over doorknobs, light switches with a rocker panel versus a toggle switch or even awning-style windows to make them easier to open and close. Making subtle changes like these can have long-term impacts on your comfortability and ability to stay put.
If one is already having trouble moving around the house, it may be time to outsource assistance. Some people avoid electric scooters or chairs due to the hefty price tag, but what many don’t realize is that some at-home electronic aids are covered by Medicare. Other available resources you can contact if in need of home modifications or low-cost assistive devices include the Administration for Community Living, the National Rehabilitation Information Center and AARP.
If you wish to revamp your space with stylish home furnishings that allow for aging in place, having a consultation with an experienced local home designer, or Certified Aging in Place Specialist is your best bet. These professionals are trained in meeting the needs of older adults by assisting with aging-in-place home renovations. Whether you need pocket doors to help with mobility between rooms, wider hallways for wheelchairs, or even a single-story house plan with a complete second suite, these designers can help update a home to adapt to a family.
Aging-in-place updates don’t always have to look and feel dull. You can make simple tweaks to make any space look presentable and elegant. An easy place to start implementing these tweaks is in the bathroom. Easy home aging-in-place modifications could be eliminating hard- to-reach areas like high or low cabinets. Instead, opt for darker hued drawers right under your countertop. They are more accessible and can easily match almost any kitchen décor. Need additional aging- in-place thoughtful kitchen inspiration? Introduce a mobile, adjustable kitchen island with lots of storage to avoid excess meal prepping and standing time.
If aging in place is the path forward, it’s important to realize there’s more to it than just staying put. Like every stage in life, it’s important to ensure that plans are thought through. When thinking through ways to create a safer and age- friendly home environment, take advantage of resources available to you and prioritize updating rooms you utilize the most. Focus on the basics and create a well-coordinated and accessible space with fixtures that don’t compromise on aesthetics or functionality.