Most seniors find that after retirement, they suddenly have time to do many of the things they’ve always wanted to do: travel, relax, try a new hobby. These rewarding years come after a lot of hard work and sacrifice, and most people find that they are truly fulfilled with their new schedule. However, new activities also mean a new risk for injury or changes to the body, especially if the individual is dedicated to aging in place. Staying in the home as long as possible is important for most seniors, and for many, it poses few problems. There are certain things to think about when aging in place, however, such as safety concerns and staying healthy.
When considering aging in place, take into consideration that your physical and mental state may not be the same ten years from now. Look around your home and assess any potential danger or hazard, and make any necessary changes. It’s also important to think ahead in regards to your finances and any future plans you’d like to have in place, both for your own peace of mind and to help any family members who will take the responsibility for them.
Here are some of the best tips for aging in place.
Update your home
Take a look around your home with a critical eye; is the stove several years old? Will the refrigerator or hot water heater need to be replaced in a year or two? There’s no time like the present to update or repair any appliance that has served you well. The less you have to worry about, the better. These days, many appliances have “smart” technology that features alarms and automatic shutoff devices, making it easier than ever for seniors to age in place safely.
Now that you’ll be spending more time at home, it’s important to make sure the living areas are clean and free of clutter. Because seniors are prone to falls and injury, remove any clutter from walkways and make sure they are well-lit. Remove or fix any rugs that are slippery or have turned-up corners that could be trip hazards. Take a look at bathrooms and other often-used spaces and ensure the fixtures are maintained, and consider replacing the toilet if it sits low to the floor; taller units are much easier for older seniors who have trouble getting up and down.
Think about how you’ll function daily in your home; are the stairs too steep? Will you need to widen doorways for a walker or wheelchair? The kitchen and bathroom are two rooms with the most potential for injury, so it’s a good idea to install a phone or intercom in those rooms. Place rubber-backed mats on the bathroom floor and in the tub, and consider adding a grab bar and shower seat there as well. Adding lighting to dim areas will help prevent falls. You might also consider getting a service animal; dogs are especially helpful for seniors and can help reduce stress.
Planning for the future is always a good idea, and you don’t have to do it alone. Enlist the help of a family member or professional financial planner to make sure your finances are taken care of and will be in the right hands should you become injured or hospitalized.