Aging in Place: Home Modifications for Your Own Safe Senior Living

Growing old in your own home is possible when you make these aging in place home modifications. That way, you can maintain your independence, lifestyle, and safety at home. The trick is to plan ahead. Follow the tips below to extend the time you’re able to live at home—hopefully well into your senior years.

CONTENTS – In this article, you will discover the areas in your home that need attention for your safety and peace of mind as you age, including:

Home Modifications to Put Your Mind at Ease as You Age

Your house should be a haven, the place where you and your family feel safe from harm.

However, research shows than many people suffer sickness or injury at home every year. This is especially true for seniors who spend more time indoors. Therefore, a clean and safe house is crucial, but some dangers are not obvious.

Keep this in mind when you prepare your home for your own aging in place.

What is Aging in Place?

Aging in place means that you can grow old in your own home and community. You may make aging in place home modifications to make living easier and more comfortable as you age. That way, you can maintain your independence as long as possible, regardless of your age, income, or ability. That’s really important when it comes to quality of life.

So, when you’re thinking about your future, aim to create a safe home where you can age safely. You’ll want to give the following areas some attention to improve your peace of mind.

Take Care of the Staircase

Unexpected household hazards—like the stairs—cause a lot of the injuries. In fact, slippery stairs are one common cause of head injuries in aging and older adults. 

So, make sure that the stairs in your home are:

  • Stable and well-constructed
  • Outfitted with handrails and non-slip treads
  • Well Lit

Also, it is vital to make sure that the stair is clean from any tripping hazards. That means, as much as it might tempt you to put your laundry near the stairs or place things “going up” on the step, don’t do it. It’s good to break that bad habit now.

As you consider your needs as you age, remember you can always invest in a stair-lift to make it easier to safely and independently navigate the floors in your home.

For a straight staircase, you might pay between $2,200-$5,000 for a stairlift. That’s a small investment to make for mobility and peace of mind. (You might even qualify for aid or special financing.)

Keep Allergens Away

Allergens are substances that are foreign to your body and can cause unpleasant reactions. For instance, debris and particles from dust mites are a common cause of allergies in house dust. 

Also, living in a place that has pets and flowering plants can increase the chances of allergic reactions. 

While pets may be good company and be good for your mental health, they also shed pet dander, hair, and track dirt in from outside. So carefully consider which is more important to you as you age.

And, even though some house plants purify the air, others affect those who are allergic to pollen. They include:

  • African Violet
  • Bonsai
  • Orchids
  • Stephanotis
  • Spider plants
  • and any other flowering houseplant 

Therefore, it is crucial to locate and understand the nature of indoor allergens to eliminate or reduce them when possible. 

Another dangerous allergen is black mold.

Consider keeping mold at bay by removing any condensation in your home, particularly in damp areas like the kitchen and the bathroom. A dehumidifier can help. And, be sure to keep the house vents clean and clear. 

Finally, with regular carpet cleaning, you can get rid of debris from dust mites, whose droppings can cause an allergic reaction and trigger asthma attacks.

This might be a good time to think about budgeting and hiring help with the cleaning in your senior years. For the best health, you want the air in your home to be as fresh as it can possibly be.

Install Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor lighting is an important way to make your home more secure. 

Motion sensing outdoor lighting is one of the best burglar deterrents, as it can detect any movement. Other good options include timed lights and these afforable dusk-to-dawn lights, which automatically come on when it gets dark. 

When you have a well-lit property, that helps prevent intruders and can also make you feel safe whenever you get home after dark. It can also make the yard easier for you to navigate so you avoid trips and falls when it’s dark.

After installing the lights, make sure you check them regularly to ensure that they are still functional. And remember to replace any bulbs when they are not functioning.

Related Post: Learn how to protect your home.

Put Your Home on Auto-Pilot

You’ll discover several ways you can put your home on “auto-pilot.” Whether you’re thinking about your senior years or just want less to take care of, home automation is a great way to keep things running smoothly. 

This is especially true with the advent of the smart home. Technology is a great way to support aging in place. Some opportunities to automate your home are:

  • Blinds
  • Door Locks
  • Irrigation
  • Lighting
  • Security Camera
  • Temperature

Technology can be tricky for some seniors, so the good news is, once it’s set up, you’ll have a limited need to change it. 

Find Ways to Sustain Your Hobbies        

As you age, it’s important to have a hobby. It keeps your mind sharp and gives you purpose. So you want to maintain those interests as long as possible.

Gardening, for instance, can immensely rewarding. There are a few things you can do that will enable you to continue gardening as you age.

The first thing is a fence around the perimeter to keep out problem wildlife. While beneficial insects, like honeybees, butterflies, and other pollinators are welcome guests, you might not be so happy with other garden visitors, like:  

  • Coyotes 
  • Deer
  • Fisher Cats
  • Foxes
  • Opossums
  • Porcupines
  • Racoons
  • Skunks
  • Woodchucks
  • other problem wildlife

Any of these animals might find your carefully cultivated vegetable garden and layered compost pile very attractive! When you come in contact with them, they can be a cause for concern.

Fencing your garden in will help create a barrier between your garden and the wildlife. You can also apply a repellent for cats and rabbits. Even so, be aware that some of these rascals will make it through the fence.

If you’re not happy sharing your garden with wildlife to a certain degree, you may have chosen the wrong hobby.

You’ll also want to create raised garden beds, which are easier to reach and care for as you age.

Finally, install an automatic irrigation system that will tend to your garden’s watering needs.

If your hobby is something other than gardening, think about what changes you’ll need to make to sustain your time doing it as you age.

Related Article: These 3 Hobbies Travel Well.

Convert to First Floor Living

None of us really wants to project ahead to a time when we aren’t as capable as getting up and down a multi-story house. But, for many, it will become a reality.

So, in addition to installing a stairlift, you might consider whether your current home can accommodate first floor living. That means your living areas, bedroom, and bathroom are all on one floor. 

That may require making some changes to your home, like converting the den to a bedroom, and installing a walk-in shower in the lav. Other tips include:

  • Apply Non-slip treads on stairs
  • Install handrails in the bathroom 
  • Keep walking areas tidy
  • Removing scatter rugs and tape down area rugs
  • Replace doorknobs with levers
  • Make sure all areas are well lit
  • Put no-slip strips in the tub and shower
  • Upgrade to a high-profile (taller) toilet
  • Use Non-slip wax on floors

With some forward thinking and investment, you may be able to extend your time living in your family home.

Final Thoughts on Aging at Home

There is nothing more vital than making sure that your home is safe from any hazard, especially as you age. These home modifications for aging in place will make it easier to adapt to your needs as you age. 

You can start preparing now by handling broken appliances, checking your smoke detector, looking into long-term care insurance, and tending to anything else that might put your safety at risk as you age. If you do it now while you’re young enough, you’ll be that much more taken care of in your senior years.

Click here to continue reading about how you can maintain good health as you age.

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Jackie Gately

Jackie Gately is a seasoned travel writer, photographer, and marketing consultant who is passionate about travel. She loves casual-luxury experiences, coastal getaways, cultural attractions, and local, wholesome food and wine pairings. A perfect day ends with her toes in the sand or by chasing the sunset with her camera--ideally both.