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Aging in Place Safely: Important Tips for Seniors to Consider

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Many seniors feel it's important to age in place, meaning they want to live at home for as long as it's safe to do so. However, it’s not always possible without making some modifications, and sometimes it’s necessary to consider downsizing to a smaller home that will allow for better mobility and less to care for. It's important to think about your needs, as well as the needs of your partner or spouse, so you can be prepared should your health require more from your home.

There are some fairly simple home modifications that can be adjusted for most budgets, but it's imperative to do some research to find the best ones for your specific needs and to get a feel for cost. Larger projects -- such as widening doorways or installing a chair lift on the stairs -- will eat up a big chunk of your budget and may take quite a while to complete, while smaller ones are more likely to be DIY projects and won’t take as long.

Keep reading for the best tips on how to make sure your home works for you.

Look for Potential Hazards

The greatest potential for injury to seniors occurs where falls are likely, such as in the kitchen or bathroom, so it’s important to suss out those hazards first and take care of them. The bathroom is one of the most dangerous areas of the home for seniors, especially those with mobility issues; some of the things you can do to make it safer include installing a grab bar and seat in the shower, placing rubber non-slip mats in the tub and on the floor, and replacing the shower head with one that has an extendable hose. You might also consider replacing the bathtub with a step-in shower, although, this will be more costly and require a contractor.

In the kitchen, flooring should be even and free of throw rugs and other trip hazards. A non-slip surface is best. Counter-tops should be at a height that is accessible from a sitting position, and the room should be big enough to allow a wheelchair to maneuver through.

Minimize the Amount of Work

A home is a big thing to take care of, and many seniors find it difficult to keep up with yard work and cleaning after retirement. If staying in your home is important to you, it’s important to minimize the amount of work you’ll need to do to keep it in good shape. This might mean landscaping to reduce the amount of grass that needs to be cut by adding stepping stones or large potted succulents, hiring someone to come in and clean once a week, or closing off rooms that rarely get used.

Declutter

Keeping your home free of clutter is important because it reduces the risk of trips and falls and allows you to maintain a clean space at all times. It can also be beneficial to your health to keep dust-collecting items out of the way, and having a space that is neat and organized can boost your mental health as well.

Consider Downsizing

If your home has a lot of stairs or if the renovations will simply cost too much to make staying a viable option, it might be time to consider downsizing. Moving into a smaller home will not only offer you safety and comfort, it will save you money at the same time. Do some research online and use filters to narrow down the search in your area according to your needs. Keep in mind that the average sale price for a home in Northville, MI is $557,000.

Making the decision of whether to age in place or downsize is a big one, and if you’re going to stay in your home, there may be lots of work ahead of you to make sure it’s safe. Do your research before hiring a contractor and set a budget in the beginning so you can stay on track.