While there’s plenty of snowbirds that choose a warmer climate to move to, there’s also a growing number of seniors that are choosing to stay in their own homes, or a smaller home close by, as they age.
How to prepare your home for aging in place
Though aging in place doesn’t necessarily constitute a big move, like migrating south might, there are still plenty of considerations to remember to make sure the home is manageable and comfortable to live in as you get older.
Whether you are staying in your own home or moving to a slightly smaller home in the same area, it’s important to make sure your home has the right layout in order to make mobility and accessibility easy. A one-story floor plan, or a floor plan where your bedroom and necessary facilities are on the first floor works the best for aging in place, as it's possible you may need a walker or wheelchair at some point.
Consider making other adjustments, including handrails in bathrooms for additional stability assistance, and widening doorways to accommodate a wheelchair, should you need it in the future. Swapping doorknobs for lever handles could also help, in case you run into any arthritis or joint issues in your hands and wrists.
Think about your location
Aside from making sure the home is easy to move around in, and accessible in case you have any health issues, you’ll also want to consider the location. It’s important to make sure that the area you’re planning to age-in-place in is close to medical facilities, senior support facilities, and has a good public transportation system, just in case you’re not able to drive in your later years. Proximity to friends, family members, and activities that you enjoy could also be something to consider if maintaining relationships and social circles is important to you.
Keep your yard manageable
Other things you may want to think about as you decide if your home is right to age in place in could include the size and manageability of your yard, the age and condition of your home, and the safety of your neighborhood. Lots that are large and a little worn down could prove to be more troublesome as you age and aren’t able to perform some of the tasks needed for upkeep. If you are planning to move to a new home to age-in-place, you may want to consider somewhere with a small yard, or a community where lawn and house care are available or provided.
Though for many people aging in place may be the ideal plan for retirement, it may not always be feasible. Checking through the above considerations can help you plan and adjust to make sure your home will suit your needs as you get older.
If you or your client is thinking about aging in place, remember that as an SRES® Member, you have tons of resources at your fingertips, including publications and webinars that give even more information on what it takes to successfully age in place.