As of 2016, 49.2 million U.S. citizens were 65 or older, accounting for 15.2 percent of the population. Consequently, more families are having to decide what steps to take to make their or their parents’ homes more senior friendly. Living in a house that hasn’t been updated for senior residents may cause someone who’s older to fall, which is more serious than we often realize. Research has shown that 4.5 percent of adults 70 or older died following a ground-level fall, compared to 1.5 percent of their younger counterparts. So if you’re a senior, make sure to modify your home to prevent any injuries. Here are some tips to start.
The Hazards of Home
Once you reach a certain age, any number of your home’s features may cause you to slip. Potential hazards include clutter, steep staircases, poor lighting — dark or glaring — or throw rugs (which rumple easily and trip people). Rickety chairs, low toilet seats, and cracks threaded through the driveway are also suspect. Even a beloved pet like a black lab standing on his hindquarters and throwing his paws over your shoulders, or a tabby weaving between your ankles, might cause you to stumble. Painful as it is, you may need to consider giving your dog or cat to a friend or one of your children and then focus on eliminating the other dangers.
Buying a Senior-Accessible Home
In this situation, you basically have two options: Buy a new home or make upgrades to where you live. Let’s say you decide to get a new home. First, research senior-accessible housing in your area. It’s recommended that you look for homes with these amenities:
- A no-step front entry
- Plenty of lighting everywhere (Angie’s List explains, “Make sure hallways are lit with automatic night lights, which will assist in navigating your home in the dark”)
- Doors and hallways at least 36 inches wide
- Walk-in shower with seats and grab bars
Another option is to downsize. Swap out your home for a condo. Many senior citizens find that they like joining a retirement community because they meet new friends. Also, when the plumbing goes out, they just call maintenance, instead of having to fix the problem themselves or pay for a professional.
A heads-up, though: The price of a condo fluctuates depending on where you live. Since the median home price across the U.S. is $200,000, a condo may not sound like a bargain.
Now, if you’re interested in staying put, make sure that your house has these accessibility features:
- Entrances have exterior lighting.
- A peephole in the doors to let you see whoever’s knocking.
- Non-slip mats on the bedroom floor to keep you from falling.
- Rather than turn-style handles, the kitchen sink should have a touch-style faucet.
- The controls for the stove should be at the front of the cooktop so that you don’t need to reach your hand near the flames.
- The pipes beneath the bathroom sink should be insulated, preventing you from burning your hand touching them.
Consult the full list of these modifications and choose whichever ones apply to the blueprint around you.
Our senior years can be some of life’s most rewarding times. We get to see our children and grandchildren grow up. Watching your house turn into the family hearth is a pleasure. Just make sure that it fits all of your needs so that you feel truly secure in your own home.
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