We’ve heard so many times that most people want to remain at home as they age. Whether you are thinking about your own future or caring for an elderly loved one, being successful at living at home in the later years requires thought and preparation.
Most homes have been built for healthy, able-bodied people. No one has given any thought to whether these homes would need to accommodate people in their 80’s and 90’s. But the fact is that our bodies change as we age, but our homes don’t.
At some point, the place that’s supposed to provide safety, comfort, and security, does not feel that safe and comfortable any more. I’ve seen people stuck in a single room with a half bath just because they are unable to access other areas of the house any longer. Neither can they get in or out of their house unless a rescue squad comes in with a stretcher. Can you imagine how depressing this might be? Are you thinking: “prisoner in their own home?”
In a lot of ways, we take our homes for granted. We think they will always feel as comfortable as they have been for years. But the future comes. Our bodies change. And it’s up to us to decide whether our homes will support or aggravate these changes. It’s up to us to do something about it and to plan well. While we can’t control everything, we can dramatically increase our chances of having a better life for us and our aging loved ones.
So, where do you begin? Start with walking through the house and looking at it with a fresh pair of eyes. Think about an elderly friend or a relative who uses a walker or a wheelchair. Do they have poor balance, low vision, pain and limited motion from arthritis? Would you be concerned for them to use stairs by themselves? Or get into the shower? What about reaching into a closet? Or cooking a meal?
This should give you an idea about some of the areas of the house that might present a fall hazard or limit independence. Start with that. Become more aware of how the home environment might present mobility challenges and hidden dangers.
Whether you are planning for yourself or helping an aging relative, there are some important questions you need to ask yourself before adapting the home to support present or future needs. Answers to these questions will point you in the right direction and help you determine your starting point as well as clarify your goals and priorities for making an age-friendly home.
Pick up this guide that I have created for you, “3 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF BEFORE ADAPTING THE HOUSE FOR AGING” so you can start thinking through the options that would best suit your or your loved one’s needs.