As more and more senior citizens opt to stay close to children and grandchildren, aging in place–i.e., choosing to stay in the family home instead of moving to a retirement community–is an increasingly popular trend. Seniors also often decide to stay in their home to maintain a sense of independence.
However, seniors who are healthy enough to live on their own can still be at higher risk of accidents at home than younger adults, especially dangerous falls. If you or your loved ones plan to age in place, AARP recommends making home modifications in the following areas to ensure a safe and smooth transition into the golden years:
Make sure there’s plenty of lighting in all exterior locations: driveways, porches, decks, pathways, etc. Inside the home, ramp up lighting in stairwells, closets, hallways, bathrooms and bedrooms. Consider light-sensor night lights in such locations, and install glow-in-the-dark light switches. In kitchens, install under-cabinet and stove lighting to better spotlight work areas.
Make it easy to move around your home by installing rolling casters on chairs. Make daily life more accessible by installing a walk-in or no-threshold shower with a bench and hand-held showerhead, and lower rods and shelves in closets and cabinets.
Lots of small details will make your home much safer as you age. Make sure there are handrails on both sides of the stairs, and install them in any area of your home where you may need more support, such as the shower stall or front stoop. Check your doors and make sure locks are easy to use and that you have a peephole, viewing panel or security camera at the main entrance. Make sure your interior doorways are wide enough (at least 36 inches), carpets are secure, and electrical and phone cords are neatly arranged to prevent tripping hazards.
Taking the time to outfit your home now will allow you to safely enjoy many more years to come under the same roof.