Home Features that Allow Clients to Age in Place
Maintaining dignity and independence is a high priority among adults in the United States. Over 85% of individuals 50-80 years old prefer to age in place in their later years. Although it is considered a top priority by most seniors and boomers, only one-third (30%) of these individuals feel confident that their living space has the features that would allow aging in place to be a safe possibility. Almost 50% of this demographic reports that they have given little or no consideration to their home’s accessibility. As an SRES® Designee, I have a unique opportunity to empower my clients by informing them of what they should look for in a home if they intend to age in place.
- Single-story living: Main-floor living is a feature that is extremely popular today! Main floor living is having all ground-level bedrooms and bathrooms, kitchen and laundry on the same floor of a home. This is not always a ranch style home. Many 55+ communities have multi-level homes can still work so long as client can access their bedroom, bathroom, laundry room, and kitchen on the ground floor. Even with single-story living, many older clients may still want or need friends, family members, or hired professionals to take over housecleaning and maintenance. Having everything needed on one main story will allow for added comfort, independence, and safety for aging clients.
- Accessibility features: Home upgrades designed to improve accessibility are often a selling point for seniors and their families, especially if they intend to age in place. Grab bars, barrier-free showers, raised toilet seats, and lever-style door handles are accessibility features to look for. Stair-free or ramped entryways and hallways wide enough for a wheelchair should also be considered. It is unlikely that you will find a home that has all of these features, a great resource I use for having these installed is 101 Mobility . For example, you can help them consider how much easier it may be to install grab bars or change door handles than it would be to widen a hallway.
- High-tech aids: Assistive technology provides a wide range of applications that promote independent living. Such high-tech aids are becoming indispensable for aging in place. The technology itself is more advanced, targeted, and easy to operate. Aging adults are also becoming more comfortable using tech devices. Seniors report higher levels of confidence in technology than in previous years, with most being eager to adopt gadgets as long as they are taught how to use them in a way they understand. Smart home options including voice-controlled assisting devices (e.g., Alexa, Echo, etc.), doorbell cameras, smart thermostats, and emergency detection systems increase a home’s accessibility and allow for monitoring by faraway caretakers. Smartwatches and cell phones keep aging adults in touch with loved ones and track their location, two invaluable features when a senior needs help away from home. In-home monitoring systems, stove alarms, programmed pill boxes, and personal emergency systems are all devices designed specifically to assist people looking to age in place who live independently. These gadgets monitor home and health conditions and can report a variety of information to remote caretakers—for instance, if their loved one has a health emergency, leaves the refrigerator door open, forgets to take their pills, or leaves the house.
- Senior-friendly communities: Helping clients decide if a home is functional for aging in place is essential when their goal is to age in place. Still, assessing the senior-friendliness of a community is an important priority that can be overlooked. Are they close to their doctors? What about their friends and family members? Will they be required to maintain landscaping? Do other seniors live nearby, or is there activities in the area? These general considerations are important for most SRES® clients. If you prioritize fitness, look at communities with walking trails, gyms, or senior dance classes. Research suggests that seniors who are physically and socially active are less likely to experience physical decline or depression, so consider connecting clients with community resources and senior groups.
While it may be intimidating to consider aging in your own home if it wasn’t designed for long-term care, there are many options, both temporary as well as permanent, that can help you stay in your home well past retirement. A great resource for helping modify your home so that you can stay in it is 101 Mobility in Bensalem (215) 782-6527. – https://www.101mobility.com/
101 Mobility provides accessibility options for older adults and offers a large showroom in Bensalem.
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