Home is a place where families are formed, and lives are built. It’s the place where one can go after a long day of work to unwind and enjoy the night. Home isn’t just a structure designed solely to give shelter – it is a part of you and a part of your family’s history. This is why it can be so difficult to move into a new home. Nobody wants to leave behind their memories and give up their comfort.
These concepts can become even more of a challenge to handle as you get into older age. Having to downsize or be sent to a nursing home or retirement community is not always an ideal option, and many elderly people are choosing instead to age in place. Aging in place means to stay in your home in the later stages of your life rather than moving elsewhere for safety purposes. For many, this is the preferred option, but there are certain steps that must be taken to ensure that they can age in place safely and peacefully.
As much as we want to believe that we’ll be strong and nimble until our very last days, that simply is not how aging works. As we get older, our bodies become frailer and we become more prone to illness and injury. If you plan to live out your years in your current home, you will need to ensure that your home is more accessible, even if you are perfectly healthy at the time. You never know when weakness or disability will make it difficult for you to get around your own home, and it is essential to make sure you prepare your home for this long before it happens.
One thing to consider is the possibility that you may need a wheelchair in the future. This will require more clearance through the doorways and more space for you to maneuver in each room. Widening your door openings is one of the first steps you should take, even if you have no need for a wheelchair in the present. You might also consider knocking down structures that create narrow pathways in the main areas of your home, especially where you might have to turn your potential wheelchair around. If there are stairs to get into your home, you could replace them or complement them with a ramp entry.
You should also survey your house for areas that could use grab bars. These will help you to get up when it becomes more difficult to stand from a sitting position. The bathroom is the first place to install these, as this is where you may get wet and need more protection from slipping. In addition to that, non-slip floors could be beneficial both there and throughout the house.
Easy Use Components
As you age, your grip may become weaker, and everyday tasks will become more difficult. You’ll want to install easy-to-use products throughout your home to make everyday tasks as convenient as they have always been. This could be in the form of faucet levers that simply require a push rather than a hard grip. You could also get automated appliances, like a dishwasher that opens with the push of a button.
Think of everything in your home and consider how it could be easier to use. If you have old, difficult to twist window latches, you should replace them with newer, simpler models that don’t require as much effort to open. If your garage door is still manual, you should certainly upgrade it to automatic.
The heights of the countertops and cabinets in your home are probably currently accessible to you, but that may not always be the case. If you will require a wheelchair in the future, it could be helpful to have varying heights throughout the home. This is true everywhere in the house, but especially in the kitchen and bathroom. You may want to lower certain parts of the countertops and vanities so that you’ll be able to access them in the event that you can’t stand on your own.
Smart Home Technology
Thanks to advances in technology, it is easier than ever to age in place, and much of that is due to the capabilities of smart home systems. Voice-activated appliances are very real, and they can make it a lot easier for an elderly person to live on their own in the home that they prefer. While the technology behind them may be advanced, they are very simple to use. By simply saying a command, you can microwave a meal, arm your security system, or call your neighbor. This is especially important in the case of an emergency, as you can outfit every room in your home with an emergency communication system that will use your phone – no matter where it is – to contact emergency services.
Thanks to cultural shifts and new technologies, it is easier now to age in place than it ever was before. You can enjoy your older years in your own home without worries about safety and security – you just need to prepare your home ahead of time.