Guest post from Annabelle Harris, a senior herself, creator of Elders.Center. Her goal is to help soon-to-be-seniors and already-seniors move gracefully into their golden years with less fear and more confidence. The site features a plethora of resources to help answer common and not-so-common questions about aging.
The concept of aging in place has become increasingly popular. Life expectancy has steadily increased. Many primarily healthy seniors seek to continue a relatively active and social lifestyle. It can save money to be able to age in your home as long as you can make it tenable. Being able to continue to envelop yourself within the comfort of your four familiar walls can be beneficial. However, as we age, we may be reluctant to make home modifications to accommodate our changing, maturing bodies. Days for Learning provides tips from a long-distance caregiver’s perspective to help seniors aging in place. Modifications for aging in place can be a reminder that we’d rather not have, and we may worry about the aesthetics of our home.
However, homes change as families change. When your home had to accommodate a toddler, you made modifications to keep your child safe. You can transition in the changes somewhat slowly, just as you can transition into specific home care services. We all need a little help now and then. It can provide you with peace and relief when you can get that help in your own home.
Technology advances make aging in place easier
One of the great things about aging in today’s world is the progression of technology. Years ago, waiting for pictures or the home movie VHS tape to arrive in the mail was the only option.
Today, video technology allows us to see and interact with our children and grandchildren in real time.
Similarly, home technology can offer you some wonderful aging in place conveniences, while simultaneously increasing your home’s value.
Consider installing hands-free faucets that allow for touchless operations, which in addition to being convenient for those with dexterity issues. They are also healthier due to less surface contact. Conveniences in bathrooms, like benches in showers and ADA toilets are beneficial for safety. When it comes time to sell your home, they may increase its value.
Set up your home as a “smart home.”
At a minimum a camera at your front door can offer peace of mind. Installing a full home security system helps bring homes up to technologically current.
You can also make small modifications to your outdoor surroundings.
Flower boxes can be easier to maintain than kneeling in a garden. In fact, updating your landscape to one requiring less maintenance is easier on you. It’s also being environmentally friendly and can increase your home’s value. Once you’ve made those changes, consider giving your home a pop of color with a new or newly painted front door. Nothing like a good, vibrant color to energize our youthful spirit!
Embrace aging in place by changing some tools used as safety measures
No one relishes a fall at any age. But, let’s face it – as we get older, we lose some of our bounce. This is another area, though, where you can begin to make simple but effective changes early. You can then add in additional features later, like bathroom grab bars, if they are needed.
Minimize opportunities for trips and bumps.
Start with removing your throw rugs that can lead to slips and trips. Get help rearranging your furniture to give you a clear path to areas of the home you visit the most. Securing cords and wires will also prevent trips.
In general, make sure areas are well lit, free of clutter, and items you commonly need are within reach. For items that are up high, forgo the step ladder or step stool for a “grab-it” tool. It is handy for picking things up off the floor. They also offer a great way to keep your neighborhood litter-free while you’re getting taking a daily walk.
Outdoors, make sure your steps have a slip-free surface.
This feature will be appreciated by people from all ages, particularly in wet and wintry weather. When considering whether to add a ramp, remember that you don’t necessarily have to replace your steps with a ramp; many people add a ramp to the side while still keeping the steps. Doing this prior to needing a ramp is not only considerate of any mobility-impaired visitors you might have. If you have an aging pet, they will greatly appreciate the ramp option, as well. There are heat mats available to make both ramps and stairs safer in winter weather.
Plan for memory loss
Take steps to make your home a safe place for you or your spouse if you experience dementia, Alzheimer’s or other memory loss. Many of the modifications made for aging in place will be very beneficial if you end up experiencing memory loss.
There are also many memory-loss specific modifications you can make for aging in place.
For example, using clocks with large faces, labeling drawers and cabinets, switching to waterproof mattresses and bedding, and more. When you make these and similar adjustments, you can extend the amount of time you can live at home when experiencing memory loss or dementia.
Preparation for aging in place eases frustrations
Make changes in your home to accommodate anticipated needs before you encounter difficulties. You’ll likely find yourself less frustrated with any increased physical challenges if you’ve started early.
You can continue to enjoy your home as a safe haven, even when you do need occasional help from home health care specialists. We know that home is where your heart is. We’ll help you usher in your “changes in place” with grace and dignity.