Retirement is a perfect opportunity to take a good look at your home and make some comfortable changes. Smart planning and crucial improvements can turn elderly homes into safe living space without having to downsize or move to a retirement housing facility. More importantly, these upgrades will make your home more functional and eliminate the need to replace it preserving your independence and dignity.
This is something many seniors decide to do since it allows them to remain in places they raised their families in and build a life. If it’s time for these modifications, here are some tips to adapt your home as you age and have a nice retirement.
Start with decluttering
Before you hire a contractor and start remodeling, take a good look at your home. A lot of things have piled up over the years that now cause clutter and a potential hazard to your health. Moreover, you need to remove excess things and keep the place tidy so you will have more space to move around safely.
Start with your wardrobes, basement and other storage areas to see what you can donate, keep or throw away. You can even sell some of the things on a yard sale or online and add extra money to your renovation budget. Decluttering has a positive psychological effect as well and is a great way to mark this new chapter of your life.
Buy special furniture
As you age, joints and muscles need more care than they used to which means it’s time for a change of furniture. Traditional chairs and beds will be hard to get in and out of, so consider getting electrical ones. They use mechanisms that lower and raise furniture when needed so you can easily stand up or lay down with minimal strain to your body.
Also, installing a pole from floor to ceiling by the bed or chair will provide something to hold onto when getting up. Another useful functional furniture is a motorized ceiling lift that is intended for people who need more help and can’t rely on the strength of their arms.
Improve the lighting
For the best results, lights both inside and outside of your home need to be replaced with brighter versions to improve visibility. The best way to approach this is by installing dimmers that will allow you to choose the intensity of light. Spot-focused lights like over the countertops, sinks, and stairways will prevent injuries and accidents.
Motion sensor lights outside are a great way to make the space around the home visible to avoid slips and trips. Also, consider adding remotely controlled lights so you don’t have to get up frequently or depend on someone else. Of course, if there is a possibility to increase the exposure to sunlight – do it. Sun is good for the mood, improves immunity and will brighten up space.
Adapt the kitchen
The kitchen may require some extensive modifications in order to be safe and functional for the elderly person. Start with replacing the flooring for something that will provide unobstructed movement and prevent accidents, especially for those using the walking aids. The countertop should be lowered to avoid creating pressure on arms, but you can also use a cutting board by sitting down at the kitchen table.
Since every kitchen has cabinets that are hard to reach, make sure to rearrange the dishes, pots, and pans. Lower down the ones you use the most and consider installing pull-out drawers and trays instead of the traditional cabinets. Slide-out storage offers an easy way to organize your things and also make the kitchen more accessible.
Make the exterior more accessible
Instead of having stairs at your entrance or a doorstep, use ramped access which more comfortable to feet and people with walking aids. Change the position of your doorbell so it is easier to reach by someone in a wheelchair and make sure that there is a motion sensor light to increase visibility. Low-maintenance materials are the key to keep your deck and porch tidy all the time without having too many chores.
Walkways and paths to the door should be smooth and safe for anyone, without barriers or holes. Additionally, pay attention to the size of your entryway so it will give enough space for someone with a walker. Replace doorknobs with handles since they are easy to use, and add railing to hold onto if there is an incline to the door.
Move master bedroom downstairs
If you have more than one floor in your home, make modifications to move the master bedroom downstairs. It will help you navigate the space easily and safely, as well as eliminate the possibility of injury when climbing up the stairs. It’s ideal to have a bathroom directly connected to your bedroom, but if not – make sure the path is well lit and free of clutter.
The downstairs bedroom will also make the transition between rooms more comfortable since you will be close to the kitchen and living area. There is also an option to turn your downstairs into an open space area so that you will move freely between different zones. This is especially beneficial for the elderly with walking or sight disabilities since it gives them control over their living conditions and allows independence.
Install an elevator or stairlift
An elevator is something the elderly choose to have more and more these days since it allows more mobility. Of course, it requires appropriate infrastructure and a considerable budget, but it’s the most practical solution for those with disabilities.
On the other hand, a cheaper and more present solution is an electric stairlift. Stairs present one of the greatest challenges for people who suffer from some sort of damage to the muscles and bones. But also those who don’t see well or are too weak to climb up or down the flight of stairs.
Choose the right toilet
A toilet is another bathroom detail that will make a lot of difference for an elderly person. Standard toilets are 14 inches tall which can cause a challenge for the aching joints. Instead, opt for solutions specifically designed to provide comfort like those with 17 to 19 inches of height. However, install a handle by the toilet for balance and assistance to sit down and standing up.
Another feature that will make the toilet better is a bidet. It’s a useful addition to the seat that will help you stay clean even with limited mobility. With a remote control on the side, you can set the right temperature of the water, the intensity of spray and even warm up the toilet seat.
Slip-proofing the floors
Slippery floors are one of the main causes of falls and serious injuries that can lead to immobility and long recovery process. The simplest thing to do is to use a durable anti-slip tape and secure the slippery bathroom tiles, lacquered flooring, and entrances. Carpets are the most common solutions as well, although they require regular maintenance and accumulate dust which can be problematic for people with respiratory challenges.
Replacing the floors where possible is another way to slip-proof the floors. Cork and rubber are a bit pricey but will keep the surface safe even when wet and have a low impact on the feet. Consider non-slip tiles for bathroom and kitchens which come in a variety of patterns and colors that will fit any design.
Aging is something that happens to everybody, but it doesn’t have to be a debilitating factor. By adapting your home you will create a stress-free environment to live and function independently. And with so many available gadgets like smart lights, anti slip tape, and electric lift, your life will be under control and more comfortable.