As we age, we rely on people, places and things that are most familiar to us and give us comfort. For many people, aging also means a shrinking world in which a comfortable home is vitally important. This could be one reason that, according to AARP, more than 80 percent of people ages 65 and older want to stay in their homes as they age.
Staying in a home can be a challenge, however, if the home is not fit for aging in place. AARP estimates only about 1 percent of current homes are conducive to aging in place. This creates a difficult choice for many older Americans: Either they have to move or they need to upgrade their existing homes.
An excellent article on NextAvenue.org addresses the challenge head on. Will Your Home be Ready for Aging in Place? includes numerous suggestions for how to "redefine a home" to accommodate seniors. Among the ideas are the following:
- Stairless entries
- A gradual outdoor incline up to the entry instead of ramps
- Doorways wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers
- Lever-style doorknobs
- Lever-style faucet handles
- Shallower countertops to put items in easier reach
- Curbless shower stalls
- Slip-resistant floors and lighter-color floors for greater visibility
- Lower placement of light switches and higher placement of electrical outlets
- More windows for better indoor light
Obviously, some improvements are minor, while others require significant remodeling. The key is something called "universal design," says Richard Duncan, executive director of the R.L. Mace Universal Design Institute in Asheville, NC. He tells NextAvenue, “You can call it 8-to-80 or lifelong-living [that] responds to people over their lifespan through all of life’s changes, not just when older.”
Check out the article here: http://www.nextavenue.org/home-ready-aging-in-place/ Food for thought!