As baby boomers start thinking of downsizing, most plan to stay in their homes. According to an AARP survey, 76% of Americanss over the age of 50 are planning to “Age In Place”. In order to accomplish this they have many adaptations to consider.
Climbing stairs, navigating narrow halls and doorways, and stepping in and out of the bathtub all may become more difficult as a person ages. Mobility is not the only challenge brought on by aging. Hearing and visual challenges may arise as well. Unfortunately, modifications to reduce these challenges happen only after a crisis has occurred. Falls are the most common event triggering the need to modify a home.
If you are planning for possible future accessibility needs there are a few key things to consider. First, all essential living space should be on the main level of the home. That is, a bedroom, a full-bathroom, kitchen. Second, a zero-step entry is crucial, either in the garage or at another exterior entrance. If a ramp needs to be installed it’s suggested for security reasons that it be out of view from the street. Homes with ramps are often targeted by burglars.
There are also necessary interior modifications to consider. Narrow hallways and doors are often found in older homes and are restrictive for mobility assistive devices, like wheelchairs. These may be harder to remodel due to design. Horizontal rather than vertical storage reduces the need for step stools. Removing obstacles such as rugs and electrical cords help decrease the risk of tripping.
Consulting with a specialist such as a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) or a Certified Senior Housing Professional (CSHP) is a good place to start analysing your home.