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Roadmap for Aging in Place: How to Prepare Today for your Senior Years

This is a great article originally published on Home City Real Estate in regards to what factors to take into consideration when planning your senior years. More information can be found on http://www.homecity.com/how-to-prepare-for-senior-years

Roadmap for Aging in Place: How to Prepare Today for your Senior Years

Aging in place is an attractive option for many retirees who value independence and living life on their own terms. This lifestyle choice is a commitment to remaining in the home that you know and love, rather than relocating to a retirement community or assisted living facility.

Establishing an aging in place plan denotes taking responsibility for your quality of life without being a burden on your family or community. Now is the time to start planning for your senior years and making small changes a little bit at a time. Trying to prepare everything at once can be a daunting endeavor, and some changes you may want to make, such as major home renovations, may displace you from your home for days or even weeks. Home repairs and modifications are easier to make before your senior years, and it’s never too early to start planning ahead.

This is a guide for adults who want to live out the rest of their lives with dignity, freedom, and confidence in their own homes during their senior years. It is also a useful resource people who are planning for the future and actively trying to make changes to live more comfortably where they are now. Perhaps you have a parent who has limited mobility, but a second parent who is willing and able to take care of the two of them in their own home as they age. Adult children can also benefit by reading this guide to start making plans with their parents and worrying less about manageable, emotionally-charged tasks.

Choosing the Right Home

Your current home may be full of memories, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right home for you as you get older. Now is a good time to consider downsizing to a home that is more suited to your current situation. The large house that you raised your kids in may be too much to handle for just you and your spouse. Large homes require lots of maintenance, cleaning, and upkeep, and all of those tasks become more difficult with age

To determine if your current home can be a lifelong home, start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Is there at least one step-free entrance into your home?
  • Is there a bedroom, full bathroom and kitchen on the main level?
  • Are the interior doorways at least 36 inches wide?
  • Are there secure handrails on both sides of the stairs?
  • Are your hallways, staircases, and walkways well lighted?
  • Do you have a shower/tub with a step-free entry?
  • Is the carpeting in your house and on your stairs secure and in good condition?

If you answered “no” to some of these questions, it’s time to start making changes around the house or looking for a more suitable home that requires less work. For example, a one-level home may be easier to maneuver than a multi-story home with many stairs as you get older. Reasons to relocate include having a walkable neighborhood, lowering household expenses, increased access to convenient facilities, and being close to friends and family.


Home Modifications to Consider

There are many ways that you can modify your existing home or a new home that you move into to make it comfortable and accommodating. According to the Fall Prevention Center of Excellence, six out of 10 falls occur in homes with a high prevalence of hazards like loose throw rugs, a lack of tub/shower grab bars, and obstructed pathways. These are some modifications to consider working on now.

Wide Doorways

Wide doorways can accommodate scooters, wheelchairs, and walkers and can be very useful for seniors who use mobility assistance. Doorways should be 36 inches wide and hallways should be 48 inches wide according to the Americans with Disabilities Act and Specially Adapted Housing Minimum Property requirements.

Walk-in Bathtub

Getting in and out of the tub is an issue for many seniors, and a walk-in bathtub can help prevent dangerous slip-and-fall accidents. Consumer Affairs allows you to compare reviews for walk-in bathtubs, which are taller than standard tubs and typically include grab bars, a built-in seat, hand-held shower head, and non-slip floor.

Grab Bars and Handrails

There are many places inside the home where grab bars and handrails can be useful, including the shower, along the staircase, and beside the toilet. Some senior-focused nonprofit agencies, such as CASA, enlist the help of volunteers to install grab bars and hand rails for seniors in the community free of charge.

Ramps and Stairlifts

Ramps and Stairlifts make senior homes much safer and more accessible by eliminating stairs that pose hazards. You can install ramps for short stairs such as one or two steops outside at your front and back doors and use a stairlift to assist with longer stairs (inside or out).

Simple Repairs

It’s easy to procrastinate on simple household repairs that don’t seem all that important. However, household issues tend to worsen over time when ignore. Make a point to start fixing broken steps and cracks in the floors now before the conditions get worse. Not only do these types of repairs prevent falls, but they are also more cost-effective when performed without delay.


Features of a Manageable Home

In addition to home modification projects, there are other helpful features that you can incorporate into your home to make aging in place more manageable.


Clear Out Clutter

It’s a wonderful feeling to be surrounded by your favorite mementos and treasured possessions, but this is also a good time to evaluate your belongings and clear out the clutter. Clutter-free homes are easier to live in and maneuver around. Take a weekend to de-clutter and simplify your life as much as possible by evaluating each room and making piles to sell, donate, and throw away.

Secure Loose Rugs

It’s easy for anyone to trip over loose rugs regardless of age or agility. Rugs add beauty and character to a room, but they can also dangerous and lead to bad falls. Buy rugs with non-slip bottom or secure your rugs to the floor with glue, adhesive, rubber backing, or rug pads.

Use Slip-Resistant Mats

Similarly, pick up slip-resistant mats to place in your bathtub and shower to prevent falls and feel secure when you step in and out. It’s also a good idea to place a non-slip mat by the sink area as well to reduce the risk of slipping.

Invest in Auto Shut-Off

Appliances It can be easy to forget to shut off appliances in the home, but this is an issue of both safety and energy efficiency. For peace-of-mind and as a cost-saving strategy, start investing in appliances that have automatic shut-off mechanisms. You can find stoves, toasters, and even curling irons that shut off on their own after time passes without use.

Make Lighting More Accessible

Dimly lit rooms can cause you to trip and fall in your home, especially if you suffer from balance issues or worsening eyesight. Add a few lamps to dim rooms and extra lighting fixtures in hallways where light switches aren’t easily accessible at the doorway.

Use Assistive Technology

The implementation of assistive technology can help seniors stay in their homes longer and enhance the quality of life too. This term refers to products that help people with limited abilities accomplish common tasks and maintain independence. Types of assisted technology products that are useful to seniors include the following:

  • Medical alert system
  • Door and faucet grips
  • Bulb changing kit
  • IPad
  • TV ears
  • Wireless keyboard
  • Stairlifts
  • Adustable Hospital Style Beds for home care
  • Lift and recline chairs
  • Bathtub lifts
  • Pool lifts



Making your home safe and accommodating is one of the most important aspects of aging in place; however, there are many other factors to consider before committing to this lifestyle as well. Think about what type of support you will need if you suffer from a chronic condition and if an in-home caregiver or geriatric care manager would be helpful in your situation. You need to understand the risks involved with aging in place, think about a transportation plan, and talk with your family about your wishes and concerns.


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