Living into your golden years is a milestone that should be celebrated. However, it can be difficult for seniors to adapt to the necessary lifestyle changes required as they grow older.
Many seniors prefer to stay in their homes as they age rather than move into an assisted living facility. While this is ideal, not everything about remaining in your home is easy. There are many changes seniors may have to make to age in place.
Certain aspects, such as finding the best home insurance for seniors to save money while living on a fixed income, might be easy changes to make. But others may be harder. Updating a home to accommodate seniors' new needs can be more difficult.
Home improvements cost money, and they can also be time-consuming. It may be challenging to determine which upgrades are worth the time and money and which are not.
1. Update Flooring for Safer Movement
This upgrade is an excellent place to start for seniors looking to make their living situation more comfortable. New flooring allows for safer movement around your home, and it can also help the overall appearance of your house.
Some flooring choices, such as longer threaded carpets, are less than ideal for those looking to age in place. These long threads can pose a serious tripping hazard for seniors, especially if they require a walker or wheelchair. Extremely short thread carpets are perfect for seniors as they are much easier to navigate and pose a lower threat of tripping than longer threads.
Hard-surface floors can also pose slipping problems, as their smooth surface can make it difficult to keep traction while walking. Replacing hard flooring with a short-thread carpet is the safest option. However, if you prefer hard flooring, rugs can be a great solution to avoid slipping hazards.
Strategically placing rugs in areas of high traffic can help seniors avoid slips. Rugs can pose potential threats on their own, such as moving around when hit with walkers or wheelchairs, so keeping them in place is crucial. Products like rug grippers can help hold rugs in place and avoid any potential hazards.
2. Make Bathing Easier With a Walk-In Bathtub
If your home doesn’t have a stand-alone shower, adding a walk-in bathtub is an essential upgrade to make. The risk of falling becomes extremely high when seniors must step over a tall bathtub wall to enter their shower.
Walk-in tubs can often be created from your existing bathtub with a simple modification. A doorway is added on the side of the tub so seniors can easily open and step in without the need to step over a wall.
If your bathtub needs to be replaced, many pre-made walk-in tubs are available for purchase. These options often come with many upgraded features for seniors, such as anti-slip flooring, lighting, and safety handrails. While purchasing a new tub may be more expensive, they are well-equipped to help seniors bathe as safely as possible.
3. Add Ramps or Lifts for Better Accessibility
Ramps can be a perfect upgrade for homes that have many stairs. While these aren’t necessarily ideal for indoor stairs, they can benefit any outdoor stairs that may be difficult to use.
Areas of the home such as the front door or backyard may require stairs to access them. Seniors who require walkers or wheelchairs may have difficulty using the stairs safely. Even seniors who don’t need walking assistance may struggle if there are many stairs.
Adding a ramp to these stairs can help seniors greatly with their accessibility. Ramps can be made by professionals or even family members who are handy, depending on their skill level. It’s essential when installing these ramps to make sure they are sturdy and well built to avoid any potential injuries while using them.
If indoor stairs are an issue, adding a stairlift can help seniors access their upper level without climbing steps. These ramps will typically need to be installed by a professional, but once they have been added, they can make stair injuries potentially non-existent.
These lifts operate using a track, which runs the length of your stairs. A chair is then attached to the track, and the user sits in the chair and presses a button. They will then be taken either up or down the stairs with ease, eliminating the potential for a slip or fall.
Adding either a ramp or stairlift to a senior’s home can significantly increase their movement ability and reduce the chances of accidents.
4. Make Access Easier by Upgrading Door Handles
A doorknob may not be your first upgrade idea when considering how to update your home for aging in place, but it can be an essential improvement. Round doorknobs are often challenging to grab and turn for seniors. Many in their golden years experience pain and arthritis in their hands.
Switching rounded knobs with lever door handles can make a big difference in the ease with which seniors can open doors in their homes. Rather than tightly grasping and turning a round knob, lever handles allow seniors to push down and open their doors easily.
This improvement is often simple and easy to do without the help of a professional. Once you’ve found lever handles that are the same size as your existing knobs, simply remove your rounded doorknobs and install the new ones. This improvement will make a huge difference in accessibility around the home.
Upgrades to Age in Place Comfortably
Aging in place is a choice many seniors prefer. There are few better places to enjoy your golden years than in the comfort of your own home.
However, many aspects of your home may make it difficult to age comfortably in place. Long carpeting, tall bathtubs, stairs, and round doorknobs can all pose serious problems for seniors such as fall risks, tripping hazards, or arthritis flare-ups.
Updating these features to make them more accessible for seniors can help the process of aging in place go smoothly. Staying in your home can pose less risk by updating flooring, installing a walk-in tub, adding ramps and stairlifts, or swapping out door handles.
Fortunately, the process can also be made more affordable thanks to free home repair assistance for seniors.
Alexandra Arcand writes and researches for the insurance comparison site, ExpertInsuranceReviews.com. She is a home improvement expert who enjoys sharing her knowledge with others.