According to the recent Age-Friendly Community Survey from AARP, more and more Baby Boomers are electing to stay in their current home rather than downgrade or move into an assisted living facility or retirement community. Are you one of them? If so, you will need to think about certain modifications that will need to be made to your house as you age. Everyone deserves to be able to live in the comfort of their own home, but let's face it, your mobility at the age of 85 might be a bit different to what it is (or was) at 65. So in order to stay happy and healthy in your own house, there are a few remodeling projects to consider. Here are the most popular according to the AARP survey.
Forty-two percent of all survey respondents said that remodeling their bathroom was the most important change they would need to make to stay in their own home. Some of these modifications are simple and relatively inexpensive, such as changing doorknobs to swing handles and installing a grab bar alongside the toilet. However, larger projects such as lowering countertops, installing a handicap accessible shower, and widening doorways take a bit more time and planning.
Medical Emergency Response System Installation
Thirty-two percent of respondents rated having an emergency response system as the most significant change they wanted to make in their home as they age. These systems generally consist of a small device that you wear around your neck or wrist. When the device is pressed it will transmit a signal to a call box, which will then immediately connect you with emergency services. For older people who live alone, these systems are highly recommended. Unfortunately, according to the Federal Trade Commission, most insurance companies don’t pay for the equipment so if you need to purchase this kind of system, expect to fork out for installation and monthly service fee.
This one seems obvious and nearly one-quarter of all respondents agree that better lighting would be a necessary modification for them to stay in their home. Change in vision is one of the downsides of aging and it happens to nearly all of us. Believe it or not, the human eye actually begins to deteriorate from the age of 40! According to a separate AARP study, older adults require two to three times more light than younger adults, and as we age, our eye lenses tend to yellow, decreasing our ability to see white light. Using cool white halogen and fluorescent bulbs is just one way to maximize vision and can help minimize the chance of a fall or other accident.
Easier Home Accessibility
Twenty-two percent of survey takers said that changing the way they get in, out, and around their home was the most important consideration for staying in it. Personally, I would have thought that this would be the most popular change, but ramps, doorway modifications, and chairlifts ranked only fourth. These types of alterations should be carefully considered because they are not only the most expensive changes that need to be made; they also take the most time. It would be a wise decision to have your home assessed for these modifications well before you may need them as they could very well change your decision about staying in your home.
Addition to First Floor Living Area
Finally, 14 percent of respondents listed modifications to the first floor as an important part of staying in their own home. Many houses in the greater Bristol area are two-floor Cape Cod style homes with narrow staircases, which is a difficult entry point to a second-floor bedroom. Converting a rarely used first-floor dining room to a bedroom, or making changes to a kitchen to accommodate a wheelchair are definitely remodeling projects to consider as you age.
Are you an older adult living in the area? Do you agree with the survey results? Are there other modifications you consider to be important for you to stay in your home? I’d love to hear from you.