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Prioritizing Home Modifications For Seniors: Moderate Changes Can Have A Big Impact

Finding the perfect home as a senior can take a lot of searching. Adults often desire to stay in a home on their own through their golden years, but they may need to find a new home or make modifications to an existing home to ensure they can live independently and safely. Some homes are designed with seniors in mind, like retirement communities, while others can be a good fit with a few modifications.

A home for one's golden years typically needs some adjustments

Bankrate notes that almost 90 percent of people over 65 years of age want to stay in a home on their own for as long as possible. The problem is that oftentimes a senior's home becomes unsafe as health issues arise. Falling becomes a significant risk and it can be difficult to do tasks individually when a place isn't geared toward senior living.

Choosing a new home or making changes to an existing home can make life less stressful and provide a place that is safer and easier to navigate. When you are evaluating a home's suitability for an aging senior, it can be helpful to go room by room looking at every detail with aging in place in mind.

Focus on the easy changes first

Some senior-oriented modifications are easy and fairly inexpensive to do. For example, lighting is one key aspect to evaluate in an existing house. Dim lighting can lead to slips and falls, so look for spots where some extra light will provide better visibility. Battery-powered sensor lights, touch lamps, and night lights are easy to install and can have a major impact on illuminating a dim space.

Rocker light switches and lever door handles can be helpful to have throughout the home, and C- or D-shaped cabinet and drawer handles work well for seniors too. Add hand rails to stairs, both inside the home and outside by front or back doors, and remove door thresholds that may present trip hazards.

Bathroom accessibility is vital for aging adults who may develop mobility issues. Add grab bars or seats to the shower or tub, and put in levered faucets and movable shower heads for some added flexibility. Look for a fair amount of space around the toilet for those who need space to maneuver and Access Home America notes that you should make sure there are non-slip surfaces too.

Prioritize needs that are more difficult to accommodate

For homes that have stairs, AARP suggests focusing on places with straight, wide staircases that are easy to navigate and could be modified with a stair lift later if needed. Doorways often vary in width, but those that are at least 36 inches wide are preferable for seniors who may be facing mobility challenges.

Kitchens geared toward seniors with mobility issues will often have cabinets and countertops at lower heights that are easier to access. It can also be helpful to have cabinets that allow knee space and plenty of clear floor space for those in wheelchairs.

Form the right plan before making major changes

Allow plenty of time for your senior to make big decisions about these housing questions. There is a lot to consider when it comes to modifying an existing home or moving into a new place, and it is important not to rush into this. Help your senior organize their questions and priorities and plan an approach to address their needs.

There are often manageable ways to accommodate seniors who wish to keep living on their own. Look for opportunities to make subtle improvements to existing homes, like changing lighting, faucets, and handles, and consider an older adult’s needs for accessibility in the kitchen, bathroom, and around stairs. Take the time to find the right place for your loved one to enable them move forward in their golden years in a safe and secure manner.

[Image via Pixabay]

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