By Jackie Waters
A long time ago, people stayed in their home when they got older. Then, someone found a way to profit off nursing homes, retirement communities, and the like. Those can be helpful for a senior that has serious mobility or dementia issues, but for most baby boomers in their later years, aging in place is a much better option.
Know What You’re Talking About
What is “aging in place?” of some sort.Simply put, it’s when you grow older in your old place. In other words, it means you’ll stay at home even though others your age might be heading to a rest home
Getting a home ready for seniors to age in place is now a proper business, and as such, it has it’s own terminology. Some of it just makes sense — you already know what a security system is. But to make planning and discussing this easier, here are some terms
- Accessory apartment: A separate place to live in the home perfect for guests or live-in nurses.
- Grab bars: Bars bolted to the wall so a senior can grab it instead of falling down.
- Pull-out shelves: Shelves in a cabinet that pull out towards you so you don’t have to reach in the back.
- Transfer benches: Small but comfortable benches that seniors can use when getting in or out of the shower/bath.
- Weatherization: Using AC, heat, weather stripping, and other tools to make the home more comfortable to seniors.
What A Safe Home Looks Like
When it comes to determining what modifications to make for aging in place, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, many seniors have problems with their balance. Whether it’s avoiding that rug that always slides around or just navigating past boxes on the floor, seniors can have trouble with falling down. Such falls can be devastating to someone older.
Then, there’s the loss of strength and flexibility. Many seniors can’t lift or carry as much as they used to. Just reaching for that can of soup in the back of the pantry can be risky.
Spend some time walking through the senior’s home and look for possible accidents. Is that door set just an inch or two above the floor? That’s a trip hazard. Is the microwave in the kitchen built over the stove? Not only can that be a burn hazard, some seniors will have trouble lifting plates that high.
In general, you’re looking to make the home safe and comfortable. Talk to the seniors looking to age in place there and ask them what they can and cannot to do these days. Just keep in mind that seniors will get older and any mild concerns could grow bigger over time. Using a cane could one day become using a wheelchair, so you have to plan accordingly.
Finding People To Modify The Home
If this were a simple remodeling job, you might be able to make some modifications on your own, but this involves the safety of older people who need some help. That’s why it’s a better idea to leave it to a professional like a builder or contractor.
How can you find the right person? Look for a professional who is certified as an Aging-In-Place Specialist (CAPS). This certification comes from a program specifically designed to teach builders how to remodel a home for aging in place. When you find some in your area, be sure to take time to speak with them and ensure they understand what aging in place is all about.
There are many reasons to age in place. Some seniors choose to do so because their home is full of happy memories, comfortable spaces, and predictable activities, and they want to be able to pass their home on to a child or grandchild. Others do so because aging in place is often less expensive than paying for the cost of an assisted living facility. Whatever one’s reason, with a little remodeling, aging in place can certainly be a happy and safe experience.
Our Guest Blogger, Jackie Waters started Hyper-Tidy.com to share what she has learned over more than a decade of striving for cleanliness and sustainability.