Modify Your Home So You Can Age in Place
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When you envision your life age 60 and older, do you imagine living in a nursing home, assisted care facility, or your own home? Most people would choose their own home. In fact, The United States of Aging Survey found that almost 90 percent of seniors would choose to age in place.
Why You Should Stay
The same survey found that the main reasons seniors want to stay are comfort in their homes and to remain near friends and family. Moving to a nursing home or assisted care facility would result in leaving behind many of the mementos from your home, such as pictures and treasured décor. You would also need to make new friendships. Although making new friends is great, many seniors find it hard to say goodbye to longtime neighbors and to be further from friends.
According to MedSave, the annual of cost of staying in a nursing home in the US is almost $90,000, and the cost for an assisted living facility is more than $40,000. Instead of spending upwards of $90,000, you can modify the home you currently live in so it will remain accessible as you age. The actual cost of home modifications will vary by project, but they are a one-time cost that will keep you happy in your own home.
Important Modifications for Aging in Place
Before starting modifications, check out Health in Aging’s home safety checklist. It offers a comprehensive list that includes suggestions for safety, such as medication and burn safety, as well as home modification safety. Although you may not find it necessary to make all changes at the moment, it is important to reevaluate your home periodically, especially as behavior and abilities change.
Independent Living Design shares their top 11 home modifications for seniors. Some changes are simple, such as installing grab bars in the shower and near the toilet. Levered door knobs on all doors and levered faucets in the bathrooms and kitchen are easier for seniors to use. For any steps inside or outside your home, place handrails on both sides of the steps.
Other changes may require you to hire a contractor. For example, if you do not currently have a bedroom and a bathroom on the main floor of your home, it is imperative that you make that a priority. You may also need a contractor if you wish to widen doors or install ramps.
Furthermore, you should eliminate clutter, remove scatter rugs, and ensure you have adequate lighting inside each room and outside the home. In the shower, place a rubber mat to prevent slipping and consider installing a movable showerhead or a portable shower seat. You may also wish to invest in a special walk-in bathtub.
Choosing a Contractor
Visit AARP’s site for great advice on how to hire a contractor. They offer suggestions such as meeting with at least three contractors before choosing the one to complete the job and checking references from past clients. You should also ask for proof that they are licensed, bonded, and covered by worker's compensation and liability insurance. When choosing the contractor to complete your home modifications, be sure to check their credentials.
The sooner you can make home modifications, the better. First, you can avoid potential fall risks through simple and quick changes like improving lighting and adding grab bars to the bathroom. Second, if something were to happen, such as a surgery, you do not want to be forced into an assisted living facility until renovations are finished on your home. Lastly, the healthier you are, the easier it will be to make modifications.