When thinking of living out our golden years, some of us may have grand plans like moving to a warmer climate or to a retirement community. But the reality is most of us want to remain right where we are. The vast majority — about 90 percent — of people over age 65 want to stay in their home for as long as possible, according to research by AARP. Additionally, 80 percent believe they won’t ever leave their current home.

Unfortunately, current housing in America just doesn’t measure up, at least when it comes to keeping people safe in their homes for the long term. The U.S. Census Bureau recently found that only 10 percent of homes nationwide have key features that can accommodate aging Americans.

Home Safety Tips

However, there are a few steps you can take to make your home or your loved one’s home safer, at least in the short term.

  1. Remove Tripping Hazards: Get rid of all throw rugs and check that carpets are fixed to the floor.
  2. Make Opening Easy: Replace handles and faucets with ones that are comfortable to use.
  3. Stay in Place: Install grab bars near toilets and in the tub or shower to prevent bathroom accidents.
  4. Prevent Slips and Falls: Place no-slip strips or non-skid mats on tile and wood floors or surfaces that may get wet.
  5. Brighten the Space: Place light switches at the top and bottom of stairs and remember to use night lights.

Questions to Explore

While these steps can help with safety, sometimes the home’s architecture can’t accommodate the needs of aging individuals. For example, how wide are the interior doorways? Are they big enough to accommodate a wheelchair or a walker? Is there a way to enter the house that can be easily accessed with a wheelchair or a walker?

Another factor to consider is the laundry. Where does laundry get done and who does it? If it requires a trip downstairs to a dark basement, who’s making that trip? Can laundry room be moved or can the laundry  be done by someone else?

In the bathroom, while grab bars can be installed relatively easily, sometimes more structural changes need to be made like converting a tub to a shower stall with a seat that can help prevent falls. That kind of work would require a contractor.

‘Aging Accessible’

After answering some of these questions, you might notice that your home or your loved ones’ home isn’t “aging accessible” for the long run and has too many obstacles in its current state. If aging in place is the goal, you can stay at home safely as long as you get the right help and plan ahead.

Life Managers & Associates can identify problems in the home and provide the necessary solutions through the Assess Your Home package. This service involves a home assessment conducted by a National Association of Home Builders Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) who will identify potential home modifications — both major and minor — that can be made including general cost estimates. This written report can serve as a blueprint for planning for aging in place at your current residence.

For more information on the Assess Your Home package, visit Life Managers & Associates.

Life Managers & Associates manages the details of life with the same care as a loving family member to enable clients to live independently. We help them feel safe and supported — saving money and alleviating stress for all.