5 Ways to Prepare Your Home for Aging in Place
Many Baby Boomers say they would prefer to age in place and live out their senior years at home. According to the Bankers Life Center for a Secure Retirement report, A Growing Urgency: Retirement Care Realities for Middle-Income Boomers, 65% of Boomers would prefer to receive care in their current home.1
What does it mean to age in place? To put it simply, aging in place means you stay in your own home as you get older, rather than moving into a retirement community.
Why do Baby Boomers want to age in place? Many simply want to enjoy the comforts of home sweet home as they age. Other Baby Boomers fear that they cannot afford the steep costs of care facilities. And that’s a very real fear, with assisted living facilities costing a steep $4,000 a month on average, while a private room in a nursing home costs a staggering $8,365 a month on average.2 For many Baby Boomers, a short stay in a nursing home could deeply impact their financial security in retirement.
However, aging in place is usually not as simple as growing old in the same house you’ve lived in for decades. That’s because most houses are not built with aging in place in mind. Luckily, there are home modifications you can make that will help make aging in place more feasible for you. Additionally, there’s a growing market of assisted technology products available, which can help you maintain your independence at home.
Check out these five ways you can make your home more conducive for aging in place.
Would the current doorways in your home accommodate a mobility aid, such as a wheelchair or walker? If not, consider widening them so that you will be able to navigate your home as you age.
Ramps are crucial for seniors who have balance issues or are in wheelchairs. If you have exterior stairs at your house, consider installing ramps to provide yourself greater independence as you age. Indoor threshold ramps, which help provide a smooth transition from one surface to another, are necessary for older adults who use wheelchairs. A licensed contractor who’s trained in building ramps will be able to create a ramp that’s optimized for the needs of seniors, and your home’s specs. If hiring a contractor to build and install ramps is out of your budget, look into mobile, non-permanent ramp options.
The sky’s the limit when it comes to how much you could spend on remodeling your kitchen to accommodate aging in place. It may not make sense at this point in your life for a full-blown kitchen remodel, but there are a few relatively simple, less expensive ways you can begin to update your kitchen with your older years in mind. For example, installing pullout drawers in your pantry gives easier access to your pantry items. A shallow sink that’s 6 to 8 inches deep will put less strain on your back as you rinse vegetables and dishes. Keeping your microwave at counter height will help minimize the amount of reaching or bending you need to do. Finally, consider installing slip-resistant flooring. Many vinyl options offer good slip resistance, and are soft under your feet.
If you want to age in place, bathroom modifications may be important. One of the first things you should consider is replacing your bathtub with a walk-in shower. This will provide easier, safer entry and exit when you’re bathing. If replacing the bathtub isn’t in your budget, you could also look into purchasing a bathtub transfer bench. This product straddles the tub and allows seniors to safely sit while getting in and out of the tub. Safety bars and safety strips can also help you prevent slips and falls in the bathtub.
Besides home modifications, there are also many assistive technologies available to help you stay safe at home. These are generally less expensive and easier to implement than home modifications. For example, senior monitoring sensors are devices that are designed to track the comfort, health, location, safety and wellness of a senior. Medical alert systems are another option. These devices reach out to pre-selected contacts and emergency services if a fall is detected, or the alarm button is pushed. Voice-controlled home devices, such as Amazon Alexa, are also perfect for older adults. These can provide assistance with automated lighting, reminders for medications and appointments, access to media, and much more. You could also consider a smart doorbell, which can provide important security features when someone is at your door, such as video monitoring and two-way conversations.
Also consider long-term care insurance
These home modifications and assistive technology options are great for helping seniors age in place. However, if at some point you’re unable to stay safe at home, you may need to consider a retirement community. At a retirement community, you’ll be in a safe environment and receive help with activities of daily living. Long-term care insurance can help you protect your savings and maintain control of where you receive care. Contact us here to learn more or click here to read more about long-term care insurance.
1Bankers Life Center for a Secure Retirement, A Growing Urgency: Retirement Care Realities for Middle-Income Boomers, 2019, p. 27.
2Genworth, Cost of Care Survey 2018, https://www.genworth.com/aging-and-you/finances/ cost-of-care.html, 2019.
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