With baby boomers all beginning to retire and consider their options now that they are no longer going to work every day, there is a growing trend of seniors spending their golden years at home - rather than moving into an assisted living facility.
As our health begins to decline and it’s a bit more difficult to get around, it’s common for friends and loved ones to encourage us to move into nursing homes or similar facilities. It will be safer, more accessible, and more convenient, is the common argument - but what if you’d rather stay at home to save money and be able to relax in the comfort of your own home?
While aging in place does require some special considerations, you can easily age in place by considering this safety checklist for aging at home. Here’s what to do.
What is Aging in Place - and Why is it Beneficial For Seniors?
Aging in place is a term used to describe the desire of some seniors to stay in their homes and communities for as long as possible, rather than moving into nursing facilities. It's also called "aging at home" or simply "home aging."
Aging in place will allow you to stay with the comforts that mean the most to you. You can remain with your spouse or other loved ones and be comfortable as you get older.
Of course, aging in place can also save a significant amount of money. Did you know that the average nursing home cost is well over $8,000 per month - and that’s not even for a private room?
Aging in place is a smart choice for healthy aging adults who want to remain right where they are to enjoy their golden years.
Aging in Place: A Safety Checklist for Aging at Home
Of course, aging in place is not without its challenges. As you get older, you may face issues such as a loss of eyesight or hearing, reduced flexibility or mobility, and of course, a heightened risk of falling or becoming injured.
By implementing a few of the items on this checklist, you can age at home without facing any additional risk - and in many cases, without too much added cost.
To help you decide which of these upgrades you might need to consider making, think about how and where you want to spend your time, what additional help you might need, and how your living space can be adjusted or set up to accommodate your changing health needs and preferences.
1. Rethink Your Lighting and Electrical
To make your home more comfortable (and of course, safer) you will want to install some back-up lighting in the event of power outages. Don’t forget to install added lighting in places where you might be at an increased risk of a fall, too, such as on the back porch, in the kitchen, or in the bathroom.
2. Take a Look at the Kitchen
The kitchen is the heart of the home - it’s a room that you will need to use every single day and it’s important that you’re able to do so comfortably and safely.
Make sure all countertops are at the right height, particularly if you are in a wheelchair or have trouble bending over. All storage areas should also be easily accessible.
3. Consider a Stairlift
There are many benefits to installing a stairlift in your home. Of course, the most obvious is that it can improve your overall mobility, allowing you to access all areas of your house with ease. Though stairlifts were once viewed as expensive, luxury-like items, the average stairlift cost has gone down - and is increasingly affordable and accessible for just about anyone.
4. Revamp Your Bathroom
Like the kitchen, the bathroom is an essential room in your home. You may want to consider remodeling the bathroom to suit your changing needs. Installing features like walk-in or roll-in tubs and showers can be helpful, as can installing safety grab bars near the toilet.
Many older adults are even turning to things like smart toilets and bidets to help make bathroom time a bit easier as they age!
5. Install Proper Flooring
When was the last time you installed fresh flooring in your home? You will want to make sure that the floor you have is slip-resistant. Get rid of throw rugs, which can pose a tripping hazard, and make sure the stairs are safe and clear, too.
6. Upgrade Your Security
Many older adults don’t pay this any second thought - but it’s important to consider the safety and security of your home as you get older, too. Unfortunately, senior adults are at an increased risk of burglary and assault due to their age alone - after all, even if you don’t use any yourself, seniors are more likely to have high-value prescription medicines in their homes.
Therefore, it’s important that you install proper alarm and surveillance systems. Not only can these protect you from burglary and thefts, but you should also pay attention to your fire and carbon monoxide detection systems, too.
Of course, you should take the time to sit down with your spouse or other family members to determine escape routes in the event of an emergency. Know where all major exits are and how to get to them - and make sure pathways are cleared so you don’t have to worry about tripping and falling if you need to hurry out of the house for any reason.
Stay Comfortable and Safe As You Age
Aging in place is a lifestyle choice that many adults are turning to as they get older. This way of life allows for people to age with dignity and independence while staying in their homes as they see fit.
There are many benefits to aging in place, both for the elder and for their friends and family. Of course, you’ll need to make some adjustments to be able to do it safely - but with a bit of effort and planning, this is something that can be done by just about anyone.