It has become more common for adults to choose to stay in their homes as they age. This is a trend known as aging in place, which provides an alternative to an assisted care center. According to a survey from the AARP, about 75% of adults over 50 years of age prefer to remain in their homes as they grow older.
It might not be possible to live independently for the rest of your life, but with the right home improvements, you can stay in your home longer. Of course, it might also be necessary to downsize to a smaller home before you make these home improvements. If you have a very large home, consider working with a real estate agent to find a smaller, more manageable home first.
7 Home Improvement to Help You Age in Place
1. Changing the Exterior
The exterior of your home may not be so friendly for aging in place. If you don’t already have at least one no-step entry, installing a removable ramp or making changes to create a no-step entry is the first thing you should do.
Along with making it easier to get into your home, adding handrails on the walkway and extra exterior lights can help. You want to make sure you can see what you’re doing and you can balance yourself to avoid falling or tripping.
It’s also a good idea to change out any high-maintenance materials. Consider having your landscaping redone to make it easier to take care of, as well. You can even hire a service to manage your landscaping so you don’t have to.
2. Creating a Better Bathroom
One of the most dangerous rooms in your home is the bathroom. You could slip in the shower or just slip on the wet tile outside the shower area. It can also be difficult to get into the shower if it’s not a walk-in shower.
A walk-in bathtub/shower is the first place to start with home improvements in the bathroom for aging in place. Consider adding a shower transfer bench and grab bars, as well.
A raised toilet seat can help make it easier to sit and stand. You can also add non-skid strips on the floor and in the bathtub/shower to help avoid falls.
3. Add Carpet
Hardwood, tile, laminate, and vinyl flooring tend to be slippery. Unless you’re in a wheelchair, it’s a good idea to replace any harder floors with carpet. Carpet is more forgiving and also provides an easier surface to grip.
4. Install a Stairlift
If you live in a two-story home, you have a few options to consider. You can sell your home and move to a one-story home before you may any updates or you can install a stairlift.
One of the hardest things to navigate as you get older is your stairs. Even if you can get up and down them fine now, you could be stuck on the ground floor of your home if you have a joint replacement surgery or another health issue.
With a stairlift, you can easily get up the stairs. However, if you’re in a house that’s too big for you, it might make more sense to sell your home and buy a smaller home nearby.
5. Make the Kitchen Safer
As we age, we tend to become more forgetful, which can be dangerous. A stovetop with an automatic shut-off can be a great addition to your kitchen. It’s also a good idea to consider a hands-free faucet with an anti-scalding device.
You can do a full remodel of the kitchen to adjust counter and sink heights, along with replacing high cabinets. If you’re stuck reaching for things often, you’ll likely struggle and you could fall.
6. Use Anti-Slip Mats for Rugs and Furniture
Making your rugs and furniture more stable is another important step. You can use anti-slip mats to keep rugs from moving to reduce your chances of tripping. The same trick can be used with furniture to help keep it in place.
7. Upgrade Your Home’s Lighting
Better lighting helps to make your home safer. you want to make sure you can see well throughout your home. Touch-activated lights are a great option to make it easier to turn lights on when you need them, as well.
If you plan to age in place, it’s a good idea to make sure you have the right home with the right home improvements. A larger home isn’t ideal, especially if it has more than one level. It’s best to downsize first and consider these home improvements for aging in place once you have a smaller home.