While spending more time at home
doesn’t seem very exciting at the moment given our pandemic, aging in place is
still a popular goal.
So much so that according to AARP, 87% of adults over the age of 65 want to stay in the comfort of their current home as they age.
Unfortunately, that’s not always what happens. According to CDC, in the US alone, there are 1.3 million people living in nursing homes.
What’s more, nearly 10,000 baby boomers are retiring daily, which means droves of residents are anticipated to enter nursing home facilities as their overall health takes a toll.
And what that means is we’re poised to face a senior housing crisis (among
other reasons to avoid the
Don’t worry, though. It’s never too
early (or too late) to make improvements to your home to accommodate your
changing needs as you age. And what better time than now to address the
modifications you will need further down the line?
While you’re homebound and waiting for
something exciting to happen in your life, you can take the time to consider
which areas in your home will definitely need to be remodeled for your future
self. Get a pen and paper and write down what you’d like changed.
To help you out, I’ve gleaned through
the modifications offered by the home remodeling industry and put together a
few of the more popular ideas for you to consider tackling while practicing
Modify Your Bathroom
The first way to modify your home for
aging in place is to remodel parts of your bathroom. First and foremost, you
want to make sure showers and tubs are easy to access.
What’s the best way to avoid a
slippery tripping (or worse, falling) hazard?
Consider removing your tub altogether
and adding a shower without a curb. Curbless showers can look modern and
fashionable, so no need to stress about a stale design.
You can also install bars and grips to
help with moments of imbalance. And yes, there are sleek-looking options
available for those, too. Remodeling your bathroom for your future self doesn’t
mean it has to follow suit of the format you see in hospital restrooms.
The gist of it is to modify your
bathroom as best you can so it’s slip- and fall-proof.
Modify Your Entrance Ways and
Another popular section of your house
to remodel is any entrance way or stairway.
The goal is to make your doors wide
enough for wheelchairs to come through. No, you don’t need to bank on being
wheelchair-bound if you aren’t currently using one, but widening your pathways
gives you flexibility.
Plus, you might have visitors who
would appreciate the accommodation (not to mention, moving furniture will be
less of a stunting puzzle).
Another option is to remove thresholds
and floor borders that could be a tripping hazard in your doorways.
Finally, consider installing sturdy
handrails that run alongside your stairway to give you extra balance and support.
Similar to the reason for modifying
your bathroom, the main takeaway here is to remove any tripping hazards and
prevent any bad falls. Which is an occurrence that happens all too often among
In fact, one in four people aged 65+ falls every year,
and every 11 seconds an older adult heads to the emergency room for a fall. Not
to mention, an older adult sadly dies from a bad fall every 19 minutes.
How’s that for frequency?
The next popular home modification is
less about falling, but still a safety precaution.
Modify Your Kitchen
Another popular place to consider
remodeling in your house is the kitchen. The focus here is more open space with
lots of light flowing through.
Why? So you can have better visibility
as your sight declines. It’s worth aligning your long walkways, both indoors
and outdoors, with lights for nighttime hours, too.
Another helpful way to modify your
kitchen for aging in place is to design different countertop heights that
accommodate various mobility levels, which will help you access various spaces
for different needs (and ages).
You can also install pull-out shelves
for easy access to your kitchenware and items in your cupboards and drawers.
Because your kitchen is used on a daily basis, you’ll want to work in the
Speaking of daily use, consider
modifying any place in your home that
you frequent the most – today’s final tip.
Modify the Most-Frequented Place on
Your Property (Including Outdoors)
A quick personal example from my
family to share…
My aunt and uncle have an impressive
jungle-like backyard with a long wooden (homemade, I might add) staircase that
leads to their second tier. Which is wonderful because it’s a great place where
they both enjoy spending time and landscaping.
But – I was taken aback when I heard
that my aunt, who’s in her late 60s, fell upstairs in their backyard. (She also
has occasional bouts of sciatica pain and had a previous back surgery, so I was
a bit concerned.)
Since the second tier of their
backyard is quite a ways from the house itself, naturally, my aunt couldn’t
yell for help loud enough for my uncle to hear her downstairs when she fell.
Luckily, she was able to conjure up enough inertia to eventually pull herself
up, but it was a scare nonetheless.
So, aside from carrying a cell phone on
her whenever she’s by herself in her luscious backyard, they need to do a
property-wide safety check and set up sturdy handrails in not-so-sturdy parts
of their house – indoors and out.
The moral is to scour your property for
awkward steps and prepare for any potential future slips. A simple home
modification can work wonders.
Modifications Are Worth
The good news is you don’t have to go
all-in at once and remodel your entire house to make it a comfortable place of
residence for your 90-year-old self.
As you continue to maintain and
upgrade parts of your home and invest in home improvement projects, consider
these three home modifications, which are mainly future safety checks.
A big benefit is you’ll be less overwhelmed
down the road because you’re being proactive and taking care of it now.
Modifying your home to accommodate
your future is just one simple way to work your way toward successful aging and
aging in place.
If you want to learn more important ways to age in place, watch this free workshop on How to Live a Purposeful Retirement Life. Purpose works wonders for successful aging and ups your chances of aging in place.
Which home modifications will you
consider in your next remodel? How will you accommodate your future self so you
can age in place? Please share with our community!