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It’s never too early (or too late) to start planning your future home so that it can accommodate your changing needs as you age.
According to AARP, when it comes to “aging in place”:
- 87% of adults age 65+ want to stay in their current home and community as they age
- 71% of adults age 50-64 want to age in place
You don’t have to go all-in at once and remodel your home for your 90-year-old self but I’ve put together some ideas for you to keep in mind as you make modifications to your home… some tactical improvements that can help accommodate your future.
There’s a whole home remodeling industry that tailors to older seniors. The companies that offer those stairlifts (like this one here in California) that bring you down to the first floor are likely going to sell several units over the next decades with the amount of baby boomers who are preparing to age in place.
To really help you achieve this goal of aging in the comfort of your home, consider these home modifications as you continue to modify, improve and remodel parts of your house.
I’ll point out three of the more popular home modifications to get you brainstorming on successfully aging in place. These are all mainly safety checks to keep in mind:
Most of the remodeling done to accommodate our senior years is done in the bathroom, where you want to make sure showers and tubs are easy to access. You can consider removing your tub altogether and adding a shower without a curb, like this one here:
You can also consider installing bars and grips that help with those imbalanced moments. And yes, there are non-obnoxious options available where your bathroom doesn’t have to look like a hospital.
Entrance Ways + Stairways
People also remodel their entranceways or stairways, so that the widths of the doors are wide enough to allow for wheelchairs to move through… I’m not saying you should count on being wheelchair-bound if you aren’t currently using one, but widen your pathways just to have the flexibility, even for your visitors.
You can also remove thresholds and floor borders that could be a tripping hazard in your doorways.
Some people like to install sturdy handrails on the sides of their stairway, which makes perfect sense because we lose balance, the older we get…
… and bad falls can lead to an increased risk of cognitive decline.
Another popular place people remodel in their homes is the kitchen. You can design your kitchen so it’s more open with lots of light flowing through, which will help with visibility as your sight declines.
Bonus Tip: It’s also recommended that you align your long walkways with lights for the dark hours of the day. This applies to the walkways that you have both indoors and outdoors.
Back to the kitchen — you can modify your countertop heights to accommodate for different age levels and mobility levels.
Another option is to install pull-out shelves so you can access your kitchenware more easily.
Just a couple of examples from my family to share…
My aunt who’s in her late 60s recently fell upstairs in her backyard. She and my uncle have this amazing jungle-Tom Sawyer-like backyard. Check it out:
So naturally, my aunt couldn’t yell for help loud enough for my uncle to hear her down below in the house when she fell, which means:
- She’ll bring her cell phone with her next time she’s alone up there, and
- They’ll need to do a property-wide safety check and set up sturdy handrails in sketchy parts of their house.
It’s important to look for awkward steps everywhere just to prepare for any potential future slips.
Another quick story about my grandparents in New York…
My grandpa passed away from Alzheimer’s about 3 years ago now, and my grandmother is still alive at now 93. They remodeled their home so their bedroom was on the first floor of their multi-level home (if you count the rooms in the basement and attic that’s four stories – wowsa).
So they did some moderate remodeling to their home and their latest bedroom took up half of the old family room, and the bathroom near the kitchen is only accessible from now grandma’s room.
This meant building walls and doors and putting wall rails in place so that grandma could have everything that she needed right there in a convenient easily accessible room. When my grandpa was still living in that room… because he was bedridden at the end of his life, nurses came through and were able to maneuver around the house and all of his medical gear, which made it very convenient.
So even though my grandpa was in terrible condition at the end of his life, he was still able to age in the comfort of his own home with the help of homecare nurses and the remodeling the family had done. My grandma now has that same option all set up for her in that same downstairs bedroom.
Think of Your Future You
As you think about upgrading or remodeling parts of your house, think about your future older self and work in the convenience factor now to make it easier for you later.
That’ll help you:
- Better manage the cost of your self-care because you’re spending the money now upfront and
- Be less overwhelmed down the road cause you’re doing all the work well in advance
My tip to you is to be intentionally proactive today as a way of taking care of the future you. Incorporating future-based home modifications is just one simple way that you can work your way toward successful aging and aging in place. If you want to take your research one step further, check out these 3 reasons to research in-home care options now.
Thank you for being proactive in caring for your future self and for being a part of the Second Wind Movement just by absorbing this content that will help either you or someone you care for rewire your retirement years, and age successfully.
Which home modifications will you consider for aging in place?