As you enter retirement, you might look at your home and remember all of the good times spent within those walls. Those memories are core reasons to keep your home, but it must move with the times. Growing older means that you have different needs in your 60s compared to your 30s. Consider a home modification where you focus on senior-proofing the spaces. You’ll be ready for the future with a safe and comfortable home to call your own.
Examining the Floors and Stairs
Your home is a unique design based on its original blueprint. Certain elements, such as sunken living rooms and raised entrances, may have excited you as you bought the property several decades ago. It’s time to reevaluate those eclectic additions, however. They can be hidden problems as you grow older.
Try to make the home as wheelchair accessible as possible. Widen narrow halls, and replace flooring that’s not conducive to wheeled items. You might consider ramps for any exterior stairs that lead into the home. Homes with multiple floors can be senior-proofed by simply adding a motorized chair to the wall. It lifts you between floors without any danger of falls.
Be aware of the details within the home that might be issues. Rickety railings should be replaced or secured to building studs. Consider the addition of handholds in various locations, such as at the top of the stairs or along corridors. You’ll also want to keep the home clutter free, including rugs on the floor. Slippery rugs, toys and decorative items should all be off of the floor so that falls can be prevented.
Lighting Up the Space
Regularly replacing the bulbs in your light fixtures is a common household task, but it becomes increasingly difficult to do as you grow older. Take a second look at your exterior and interior lighting. Ideally, you should be able to see everything around you in the middle of the night with the lights on. If you struggle to see any objects, it’s time to add, move or alter your light fixtures.
Consider long-lasting bulbs that don’t require frequent replacement. Your home-improvement store probably has an entire aisle dedicated to energy-efficient bulbs. Although you may be tempted to use candles for a sensual mood in the room, the use of fire isn’t a smart idea in the retirement years.
To keep your home as fresh as possible, turn to battery-powered air fresheners. Oils, incense and other aromatherapy tools are attractive, but they create hazards that aren’t necessary as you grow older. Battery-powered fresheners release controlled aromas that last for a month or longer.
Exploring the Bathroom
The bathroom is one of the busiest rooms in the house along with being extremely hazardous too. The combination of slick surfaces and few areas to grab onto means that falls are possible. As a first addition to your senior-proofed bathroom, install grab bars. These tools are normally near the shower and toilet. If anyone ever loses their footing in the bathroom, these bars are instant lifesavers. Be sure to add the bars to the room’s wall studs for the strongest support.
Seniors typically have issues getting into the bathtub as physical ailments limit their movements. Before you have any difficulties, invest in a walk-in shower. There’s no need to lift your leg over the tub’s edge to lay down. You simply walk into the space and sit comfortably.
Consider a toilet installation with a taller design so that squatting down isn’t an issue. You might think about new vanities with sinks that are higher in height as well. Removing old floor rugs and adding slip-resistant models will also help the safety level in the room.
Rethinking the Kitchen
Take a look around the kitchen, and you’ll discover that many items are out of reach or hazardous to access in the first place. Granite-counter corners can be painful so cover them with padded accessories. Loose furniture, such as chairs, that are unstable in the kitchen will need some altering in order to be safe for everyone in the space.
Verify that necessary items are close at hand instead of being stored well above the floor. In most cases, you don’t want to store anything in the top cabinets that you need on a regular basis. Climbing up high can result in a fall. Explore your appliance options, too. Small appliances might be pushed closer to the middle of your counter for comfortable use. Leaning far into the counter might be hazardous for your health.
A safe, retirement life is possible with today’s technology integrated into the property itself. Initially, add an intercom system for the front door. Rushing to answer any house calls can create unsafe conditions. The intercom gives you a chance to see who’s at the door before getting up from your chair.
Other alterations around the home also pay off in safety value, including electric teakettle, smoke detector and fire extinguisher additions. Make a hot pot of tea without any flames being involved. The smoke detectors tell you when an emergency arises, and the extinguishers give you tools to fight any small outbreaks.
Two technological advancements that should be part of your senior-proofing processes are safe-lock installations and subscribing to a medical alert system. You’ll never be locked in or out of a room with the safe locks installed on interior doors. Medical alert systems tell professionals when you need assistance, such as after a fall. In addition, use a backup alert system by simply befriending your neighbors. They can visit you on a regular basis in order to check on your health.
Aging and complications can occur at any time, which makes specific home modifications crucial before it’s difficult to perform them yourself. Senior-proof your home so that falls aren’t possible. Avoiding falls can help you extend your retirement years in comfort. Hidden health problems can grow exponentially after a fall at home. You can make a difference in your health with just a few changes to your property.
Jeff E. Brown is a freelance writer, self-taught lifehacking teacher, DIY home improvement specialist, owner of two happy dogs and a barbeque master. He loves learning through experience and writing about all the cool things he has learned since he moved out of a compact apartment into a comfortable house. You can reach Jeff via his landing page.