Aging in Place
It’s no big secret: the vast majority of people age 50 and older want to stay in their own homes as long as possible. There are many small changes you can make around the house now that will have a big impact towards making the home you love suitable for a long, safe life.
You should grab a pad and pen and do a room by room tour of your home, starting inside. Do the doors and cabinets have lever-style handles? Are light switches convenient and easy to operate? Are there rails on both sides of the stairway? Look for safety issues that may not be a big deal now, but could become an issue if you suddenly became ill, or as you age. Are there slippery scatter rugs? Could you use a nightlight in the hallway?
When you’ve made your list inside, take a look outside. Is there an entry to the home that is free of stairs? Is the route to your car that is level and obstacle-free?
Congratulations! You’ve already taken a step that most people forget until it’s an urgent matter. You can take your time to make the changes little by little. Review your lists and prioritize them into tasks you can do yourself, and tasks that might take a professional.
Anyone can add a few nightlights, or remove rugs or other décor that can make it difficult for you to get around. One of the simplest things you can do with the biggest payoff is rearranging furniture to provide maneuvering space to key rooms and areas. Designate a kitchen cabinet that’s easily reachable to keep food, medicine, and emergency supplies. If you feel industrious, you can change door knobs to door levers, or install an adjustable height shower head on a hose.
A great resource for these projects is the HomeFit website by AARP. They have tips and forms to help with this project. For example, you can download and use the worksheet "My Room-by-Room Do-It-Myself List" to identify the improvements you can take on yourself. For certain improvements you may need to hire a skilled contractor. You can download and use the worksheet "My Room-by-Room Don’t-Do-It Myself List" to keep track of these tasks.
Consider calling a professional to install rocker style light switches, with a glow in the dark feature. For widening doors or creating a stair-free entry, Coastal Signature Homes can help you. We have a great deal of experience with home design for homeowners wanting to keep their independence.