You have spent years creating a comfortable environment in your home. Every room is filled with happy memories with friends and family. Each piece of furniture was chosen by you based on your style and preferences.
The pictures hanging on the walls are reminders of the people you love and the adventures you cherish. And although your body may not be able to serve you as it has for so many years, your mind is still thriving.
You love your neighbors and your community. However, aging in place is becoming more difficult to maneuver safely through your home. You may have even experienced a terrifying fall or injury because your home is not set up for the changes that come with aging in place.
You are not alone. Reports show more than 80% of Americans over the age of 50 wish to stay in their home as they age, even if they have a disability. Before you consider moving, think about modifying your home for safety.
There are at least seven must-have home modifications available that can help you stay where you are, aging in the place that gives you the most happiness. These seven home modifications are listed and discussed in more detail below.
Avoid Walking Up and Down the Stairs
If you have a two-story home, the stairs can become an aging in place hazard. They can also create pain if you suffer from ailments in your feet, legs, hips or back.
Stair lifts are becoming a very common aging in place modification in homes of people who don’t want to move, but need help using the stairs. Stair lifts are powered to safely move you from either the top or the bottom of your stairs on a track. All you must do is sit in the chair and push the button that puts the lift in motion.
An alternative option to the stair lift is an elevator system that carries you between the levels of your home. This option keeps you independent in your living environment. There are different models, just like the stair lift, to fit your budget and style preferences.
Build Indoor and Outdoor Ramps
A simple solution to making room transitions safer is to add ramps to areas with stairs or difficult thresholds, especially if you use a wheelchair.
Threshold ramps are made of rubber and very durable. If you feel you aren’t ready for a ramp, you may want to install traction tape to avoid slips. Furthermore, you can investigate buying portable ramps that you can use anywhere in your home.
Steps outside your home can be covered by a ramp also, making it easier for you to get to your car or to spend time outside in your yard. Ramps are inexpensive and can be built by a local contractor.
Make the Kitchen Easier to Use
When you were younger, you picked out the counters, the cabinets, refrigerator, and sink based on style, what was popular, your finances, and perks available at the time.
But now that the future is here, it’s time to make modifications that allow you to continue using the kitchen you love. Modifications can include lowering the counter height, sink and storing everything you use regularly in lower cabinets.
The key is to make everything more accessible, so you aren’t risking safety by trying to reach something too high up.
Make Your Shower Accessible
You may have spent most of your life taking long hot baths in your garden tub. As you age, you can understand that garden tubs don’t really meet your needs anymore. Showers are available today that are large enough for a wheelchair to maneuver around. They are equipped with safety handles and nozzles at the right height.
If you are not ready for a walk-in shower, you can opt for a walk-in bathtub that keeps you from having to climb over the side, risking a dangerous fall. There are still many other safety modifications for the bathroom if you are not ready for renovations.
Implement Bathroom Safety Aids
Up to 80% of falls happen in the bathroom. Simple additions like safety bars, anti-slip strips on the bottom of a shower or tub. Both can prevent slips and falls that can happen when the surface is wet.
A bathtub transfer bench is another option you may want to try before installing a brand-new tub or shower. Transfer benches straddle the side of a bathtub and allows you to slowly slide over into the tub. If your bathroom doesn’t have the space for a transfer bench, you may want to just put a bathtub chair inside the tub.
Additional modifications include raised toilet seats, and handheld sprayers and nozzles. LED nightlights, multiple grab bars or a floor to ceiling grab bar, inflatable basins, portable bidets, back scrubbers and toilet tissue aids.
Install Overhead Lifts
Overhead lifts have been found very useful for those who struggle with using devices to help them get in and out of the bathtub. The bath lift is like the stair lift. You sit in it on one side of the tub, push a button and it lifts you to the other side. The lifts are battery operated and suction secured so there is no chance of slipping.
Upgrade Aging in Place Technology
Assistive technology has made its way into every room of the home and the devices available today, people who are elderly or disabled can feel safer knowing they can access help if needed.
Smart technology such as medical alarm systems and voice-controlled devices like Amazon Echo or Google Home exist today. All you must do is command the system out loud to complete an action, like “Call 911”.
Each year there seems to be a new device that makes our lives easier. Upgrade to the new devices that can offer you quicker, better access to help. Implementing these changes in your home can extend the length of time you can live safely and independently in the home you love.