According to a recent AARP housing survey, 83% of older Americans want to stay in their own homes for the rest of their lives. Other studies suggest that most homes are not equipped to accommodate the needs of people over the age of 65. While most us would prefer to stay in our own homes for as long as possible, we should remember that our safety is a big factor in making that decision. Often, seniors are living in an unsafe environment that makes them susceptible to falls and other injuries. Luckily, there are changes you can make to your home to make aging in place a possibility. Everyone’s situation is unique, but there are some general guidelines to make sure that the home is safe.
Here are some questions to ask:
• Are there handrails along the staircases?
• Are the stairways wide enough to eventually install a chair lift?
• Are there rugs on the floor that present a fall hazard?
• Are there cords that run across the floor?
• Is it easy and convenient to enter the home?
• Can a wheelchair easily pass through doorways and hallways?
• Are cabinet doors and drawers easy to use?
• Can you easily get in and out of the shower?
• Are there grab bars in the bathroom or near the bed?
• Do you have a bath or shower seat?
• Are commonly used areas well lit?
Before you decide to make any changes, go through your home and ask those questions to evaluate your current and future needs. Most older Americans live in a home that is 20 or more years old. Does your home present hazards or risks to your independence?
Consider making changes so living at home safe and comfortable. Some changes can be relatively simple and others might require work from a contractor. Before hiring a contractor, make sure they are reputable by finding them through the Better Business Bureau or Angie’s List, an online directory that allows users to publish reviews of local businesses and contractors.
Use this checklist as a starting point to make aging in place a reality!