According to the latest research, the general consensus among older adults is that they want to age in place.
Eighty-seven percent of adults over the age of 65 want to continue aging in their current home and community. The same is true of 71 percent of adults aged 50-64.
Are you part of this group? Do you have an older relative or loved one who wants to age in place?
If you answered "yes" to either of those questions, keep reading. Listed below are some simple home modifications for elderly individuals to try that will make aging in place easier without requiring any style sacrifices.
Benefits of Aging in Place
There are lots of reasons for older folks to consider aging in place if possible. Here are some of the greatest benefits aging in place has to offer:
- Lower cost of living
- Increased comfort
- Easier socialization
- Slow down memory loss progression
Aging in place is also empowering. If you or your loved one can continue living in the same place as always, it's easier to maintain a sense of self-efficacy. This, in turn, may help to slow down the aging process and encourage independence.
Simple and Stylish Home Modifications
If you're convinced that aging in place is the right approach for you or your loved one, it might feel daunting to try and figure out where to begin. The following home modifications will make life easier without taking away from the most charming aspects of the home:
1. Update Doorways
For many older adults, doorways can present unexpected challenges. Making some simple changes can help seniors navigate their way through their homes more easily.
For example, switching out a rounded doorknob, which can be difficult to grasp, can help seniors get in and out of rooms faster and with fewer challenges. Instead of a rounded knob, consider installing a lever door handle instead. For some rooms, it may be beneficial to get rid of the door altogether.
Taking down the door helps to widen the doorway by a couple of inches. This, in turn, makes navigation easier for seniors, especially if they use walkers or wheelchairs.
For areas in which more privacy is needed, pocket doors are a good alternative that allows for more space while moving in and out.
2. Switch Out Light Switches
Light switches can be problematic for older folks, too. If the light switches in your or your loved one's home are too small, they may have trouble turning them on and off. To counter this problem, try switching them out for larger light switches.
Adjustable dimmer switches can be helpful, too. These kinds of switches give older folks more control over the brightness of their home and help them avoid the potential hazards that too-dark rooms may present.
3. Improve Bathroom Safety
Often, when seniors experience slip and fall accidents, they occur in the bathroom. The combination of tile or wood floors and water is a recipe for disaster for a lot of older adults. You can combat this issue with some simple additions to the bathroom, though.
For example, installing grab bars near the bathtub and toilet can give seniors extra support as they're moving through the bathroom. Laying down grip mats on the floor of the bathtub or shower is helpful as well and minimizes the risk of them falling while bathing or while getting in or out.
4. Fix the Flooring
In addition to improving the bathroom floors, you may want to take a look at the other floors throughout the home as well.
Are there lots of loose rugs in the house? If so, you may want to look for ways to secure those rugs. That way, they won't roll up and become a tripping hazard or become unnecessary obstacles for walkers or wheelchairs.
You may want to set down grip mats on the linoleum or tile floor in the kitchen as well. This can help reduce the risk of slips and falls while still allowing independence in these areas.
5. Add an Outdoor Ramp
If you or your loved one uses a wheelchair, an outdoor ramp may be necessary.
Ramps don't have to be unsightly. There are lots of stylish options available these days that allow for easy movement in and out of the home while also matching up with the existing decor.
Do some shopping online to find ramps that suit your tastes, or talk to a contractor about building one from scratch that is a perfect match for your home.
6. Utilize Smart Home Technology
Smart home technology isn't just for the young. In fact, it can make life much easier for older adults.
Smart home technology, especially things like security systems and medical alert devices, can help the elderly to feel safer in their homes. It can also make it easier for them to perform everyday tasks like adjusting the thermostat, turning on the lights, and playing music.
7. Improve Organization
Clutter can prove to be hazardous for older folks. If they have piles of paper stacked up throughout their home, for example, it's easy for them to trip over them or slip on loose items while going about their business.
To make your home or your loved one's home a safer place, dedicate some time to establishing an effective organization system. This might include purchasing some file cabinets to use for storing things like wills and estate plans. You'll also likely need to sift through documents and get rid of things that they no longer need.
It can definitely be a big undertaking. However, the payoff is well worth it. It makes the home a cleaner, more attractive place, and it ensures that important documents are within easy reach.
Try These Home Modifications for Elderly Folks Today
As you can see, there are lots of different home modifications for elderly individuals to implement if they want to age in place in style. Try out some (or all) of these modifications today to see how they make life easier for you or for your elderly loved one.
If you're looking for more home improvement advice, be sure to check out some of our other home-related articles today. They'll give you tons of inspiration and practical tips.