By Kent Elliott
We get wiser as we get older, and we also get more attached to the comforts of home. However, issues such as poor eyesight, slower reaction times, and mobility impairments can make it harder to enjoy those comforts. The good news is that with a few small changes to your home, lifestyle, and mindset, it is entirely possible to remain in the house you love for longer than you might think. Here are a few things to consider as you prepare for a long, happy, and safe retirement.
Falling is one of the biggest threats against you.
Each year, hundreds of thousands of older adults are victim to a falling accident. Many of these occur at home. Comfort Keepers points out that 87 percent of fractures (in people aged 65 and older) are due to falls and that the majority of seniors who fall will do so again within the year. What can you do about it? For starters:
Know your family history. Alzheimer’s disease often runs in families. This neurodegenerative disorder makes it challenging to recognize your surroundings. Likewise, some genetic mutations can cause mobility issues, according to a research team at the University of Alberta. Knowing your risks ahead of time can help you make better choices now that can slow the progression of some diseases.
Change your unhealthy habits. Drinking alcohol can dampen your ability to react to stairs, slippery floors, or uneven ground, and the older you get, the more pronounced the effects of drinking become. Lower your alcohol intake, and make a point to imbibe only when you are with other adults.
Your home is a danger zone, but it doesn’t have to be.
It is easy to look at our homes and believe that we are safe because things have always been a certain way. This is a dangerous mindset, since your mind and body change as you get older. Most senior advocates, healthcare professionals, and caretakers recommend living in a single-story home. If that is not possible, you will need to take measures to make your current home safer. A few of these include:
Update your bathroom. Your bathroom is one of the most dangerous places in your home. It is where you are at your most vulnerable, and it is also the room where you come into contact with the most water, which, combined with soap and shampoo, means slippery floors. It is a mistake to believe that tossing down a few rugs is enough to keep you safe. Angie’s List recently wrote about a few ways to improve bathroom safety. Adding a walk-in shower and safety grab bars are a few of the tips the site suggests.
Move your living space to the bottom floor. When you begin to notice that navigating up and down the stairs is more strenuous than before, it’s time to consider moving your bedroom. If you do not have the space, memory care community Poet’s Walk notes that stair lifts can help seniors stay at home.
Add lighting everywhere. One of the most cost-effective modifications you can make to your home is to simply add extra lights in dim areas. The hallway, under the cabinets, in the foyer, and along any steps may help offset visual issues that could lead to an accident.
Your home is your castle, and it is up to you to ensure that it remains a fortress of safety and comfort. Simple modifications, such as adding grab bars in the bathroom, and lifestyle changes, like lowering your alcohol intake, are a great start. More extensive modifications may be necessary (many states offer assistance for aging-in-place modifications) as you reach your 70th birthday and beyond, but most seniors can remain at home for the long haul with a few preparations.