Senior Resource reports that about 70% of people over 65 spend their remaining years in the house or apartment where they celebrated their 65th birthday. Why? When surveyed, 89% of people 50 and older expressed a strong desire to remain in their own homes indefinitely (AARP). However, this preference may pose a challenge as physical difficulties often accumulate with advancing age.
As a loved one ages, he or she may encounter balance issues, hearing impairment, limited reach, trouble bending and more. None of these conditions are life-threatening, however, they can present challenges to a safe and happy home life.
A concept called “aging in place”allows seniors to live in their own homes, using products, services, and conveniences which offer a safer living environment. Aging in place is more than simply “staying at home”. For the senior, it translates into independence, confidence and emotional familiarity. For the family caregiver, it means modifications and safety education may be needed.
Some of the most important features of an aging in place ready home include:
- A master bedroom and bath on the first floor
- A low or no-threshold entrance to the home with an overhang
- Lever-style door handles
- No change in levels on the main floor
- Bright lighting in all areas, especially places like stairways
- A low-maintenance exterior
- Non-slip flooring at the main entryway
- An open floor plan, especially in the kitchen/dining area
- Handrails at all steps
If a home does not accommodate these recommendations, hiring a contractor trained in aging modifications is a great alternative. The National Home Builders Association (NAHB) reports that 75% of remodelers have seen an increase in requests for aging in place work, and 60% of remodelers already perform aging in place work.
Contractors are able to modify the home to accommodate impairments such as balance and coordination, hearing impairment, limited reach, limited vision, poor strength, poor flexibility, trouble walking and climbing stairs. Some common modifications that a contractor or family member are:
Smooth, non-glare, slip-resistant surfaces, interior and exterior
Low (less than ½ inch high pile) density carpet, with a firm pad
Color/texture contrast to indicate change in surface levels
Stairways, Lifts, Elevators and Ramps
Hand rails on both sides of stairway
Increased visibility of stairs through contrast strip on top and bottom stairs, color contrast between treads, risers on stairs, and use of lighting
Counters and Cabinets
Accented stripes on edge of counter-tops to provide visual orientation to the workspace
Base cabinets with roll out trays and Lazy Susan’s
Loop handles for easy grip and pull
Grab bars in the shower and/or tub with fold down seat
Curbless shower (a minimum of 36 inches wide)
Lighted shower stall with hand-held head
Higher toilet or height-adjustable toilet
An in-home care provider understand the needs of those aging in place and can provide a free safety
check along with recommendations for making the home environment as safe and comfortable as possible. Contact At Home Solutions at 1-888-496-3983 to schedule a free safety check in Southeastern Maricopa, Pinal, or Gila counties.