Aging in place is currently a popular concept, but what does it really mean? Let’s agree that “aging in place” is nothing more than a fun way to retire and enjoy your golden years! No more alarm clocks, no more business meetings, and no more taking care of others – retirement is all about YOU.
One of the best ways to ensure that you have a quality lifestyle as you get older is to consider what your needs are as you age. This could mean remodeling your existing home to make it more senior-friendly and accessible. This could also mean the difference between staying in your own home and having to move into assisted living, so it can definitely be worth the investment!
First, you need to think about what a “quality” lifestyle means to you personally as you get older. According to an AARP poll, 3 out of every 4 retirees want to remain in their current homes. This is doable if you incorporate certain modifications or renovations into your current space. Think about what kind of quality of life you want to experience as you get older. No one wants to become less mobile or less independent as they age; you need to consider all the facets of getting older and what needs to change about your existing home in order to accommodate these facets.
Think about if your current space can accommodate wheelchairs or walkers, are there any stairs, where are the problem areas like slippery floors or throw rugs, how will you change your bathroom area to be more senior-friendly? Thinking through these issues before you ever hire a contractor can help you create a design plan for your home that is both safe AND beautiful.
After coming up with a game plan for what aging in place might look like for you and your spouse, it’s time to bring the professional help onboard. This could be an interior designer, a contractor who is experienced in aging-in-place remodels, or even hiring a certified aging-in-place specialist who is trained specifically to design and plan for the most accommodating living space for seniors. Taking the time to get a professional opinion before you do any renovation is worth it for any home improvement project – make sure you check all the references and previous work done while you are at it. Renovating for aging in place can be a big, expensive project, so be sure you have legitimate contractors on board who know what they are doing.
One of the major factors in making your home safer as you age is to eliminate all fall risks in your current home. Falls are so prevalent in adults 65 and older that every 11 seconds an older adult goes to the emergency room to treat an injury from a fall, according to the National Council on Aging. The Council also says that 6 out of 10 falls occur in the home, so this is why it is so important to renovate with safety in mind. Fall risks include throw rugs, slippery surfaces, thresholds in doorways, dim or nonexistent lighting in dark areas, furniture or items that are in common walkways, and exposed cords or wires that may get tripped on.
Also think about any additional technology or services that might be helpful when planning a renovation for a quality lifestyle after you retire. You can incorporate technology to make lights turn on at certain times, to see who is at your front door and even to stream music throughout your house – all things that lead to a better quality of life. In addition, you might want to consider getting a life alert system, especially if you live alone or are left alone frequently. These wearable systems are a service that can easily call for assistance such as an ambulance in case of a fall or a medical emergency. Be sure to research the medical alert system review sites to learn more about these kinds of systems and to find one that is right for you.
Another thing to consider is the cost of a renovation or home modification. The good news? You will probably spend less on an aging-in-place renovation than it would cost you to get a room at an assisted living or nursing home! In general, most of the remodeling projects discussed here would be less than $10,000, which is far less than what you would spend at a nursing home. (For comparison, check out the LongTermCare.gov website for average costs of each option.) It may be better to spend your money making your home safer and more accessible than giving it to a facility that may not be so homey.
In conclusion, living your best life as you get older is totally possible with the expertise, technology and products that are available these days. Turn your current home into a safe, accessible place for your golden years and enjoy aging in place in style!