Growing older in your own comfortable, familiar surroundings is a privilege not everyone enjoys. However, with a few changes now, you can help ease the transition to growing older comfortably and safely in your own home.
Probably the easiest fix to make is changing out your door hardware. As we age, we can be at risk for arthritis or simply an infirm grip. Changing out doorknobs for lever handles can benefit you down the line and because they come in a variety of styles, you can find one to suit your existing aesthetic.
Another simple fix is to install smart home features like a thermostat, security features, outlets, and light bulbs. These features can be controlled by apps on your smartphone and can increase both security and safety in and around the home. Security upgrades like cameras, alarms, and visual doorbells allow you to see what is going on around the exterior of your home. Controlling your thermostat from your phone allows you to keep your bills low, avoid burst pipes from freezing, and warm up your home before your arrival. The ability to control lighting in your home can make your entry safer by lighting a dark doorway and making use of motion-detection lighting.
As we age, for many of us, our eyesight will suffer. Installing ample, bright lighting now will serve us in the future. Choosing LED bulbs will prevent frequent changes from needing to be made as they last about 10 years.
Some changes will, by necessity, be a larger undertaking. The first of those changes is replacing your windows. Because this is something recommended every 15-20 years, the next time it’s time to make a replacement, consider making a smart choice for seniors like windows with interior blinds that require less cleaning and are safer without cords to trip over or tangle.
Obviously, a stair-free environment is optimal but not always realistic for seniors converting a family home to a place to age in dignity and comfort. If you can’t live stair-free, there are still some safety improvements you can make. The most important update you can make is to create a high contrast between the risers and the treads of the stairs. Again, as eyesight suffers, being able to clearly distinguish individual stairs can save one from tripping while ascending. Additionally, creating contrast on the edges of stair treads can prevent missing a step on the way down.
Finally, with unknown future physical abilities, it can be a smart idea to widen all doorways (or at least doorways into critical rooms) to 36” which is the width necessary to allow a standard wheelchair to pass through. As this may not be necessary, this can be considered when evaluating the extent of your budget.
To learn more about designing a kitchen or bathroom for aging in place, see our post [here].