Five Important Home Features for Successful Aging in Place
Many older adults today are making the decision to age in place. Part of that process is living in a safe, accessible home now and into the future. Whether downsizing to a smaller home or making modifications to the one in which you currently live, here are five important home features for successful aging in place.
- Single Level It is common sense that a single level home is a better choice. However, they are not always without their challenges. It is easy to overlook the couple steps at the front entrance or in from the garage that may not be an issue now but can become an issue down the road. If you cannot avoid stairs altogether, make sure that stairs have secure handrails and clearance to add a potential ramp or lift if needed in the future.
- Larger Bathrooms Beyond luxury, there are practical reasons for having a larger bathroom. The majority of falls at home take place in the bathroom so it is especially important to have plenty of room in the bathroom. This means having enough room to maneuver a walker or wheelchair (with room to turn around). It is also a good idea to have properly placed and secured grab bars in an effort to prevent a fall. A full size, walk-in (or roll-in) bathtub that can accommodate an eventual shower seat also becomes more important as mobility declines.
- Lay of the Land A home on a hill may offer a spectacular view, but it could also pose safety issues. Putting the trash out for pickup, landscape maintenance, or isolation from neighbors can become concerns. Poor outdoor drainage could also impact safety, especially if mobility is impeded. A flat lot with a smaller, hardscaped yard may be your best bet. It is also ideal to have parking that is close to the entrance with easy access to and from the car. The home’s proximity to amenities (such as shopping and community resources) and access to family, friends, and neighbors is another important consideration.
- Flooring While marble, travertine, and other tiles can add to the beauty of a home, they can also pose safety challenges. When wet, these surfaces become especially slippery and because they are hard and non-shock absorbing, they can cause greater injury in the event of a fall. Better flooring choices would be laminate flooring or wood flooring. Skip the area rugs and opt for low-pile carpeting over plush carpeting that can make maneuvering walkers and wheelchairs more difficult in the future.
- Size of the home Simply put, the more space you have, the more space you have to maintain. Cleaning and maintaining a large home and yard can become overwhelming as we age, and deferring these tasks can become dangerous. Of course, having too little space with too much stuff can also be dangerous. The idea is to strike a comfortable balance between what you want now and what you realistically anticipate needing in the future.
There are other considerations to making a home comfortable and safe for aging in place (such as lighting), and these can be assessed for you by a Certified Aging in Place Specialist. Contact Aimee if you need a referral to one. Or, if you are in the market to buy a home where you can successfully age in place and/or sell a home that is not longer working for you, give Aimee a call. Lastly, you can find additional resources on successfully aging in place at the National Council for Aging in Place