When it comes to making a home as comfortable and accessible as possible, nobody does it quite like Abt. Between smart technology and ADA-accessible appliances, we’re ready to help outfit any home with the products our clients need.
In truth, we believe that every home is an investment that should last, and many others do, too. AARP shares that nearly 90% of adults over the age of 65 want to remain in their homes as long as possible. For many older adults, maintaining that strong sense of independence is important.
According to a national poll by the University of Michigan, most aging Americans want to stay in their homes. However, 48% have yet to give much thought to home modifications that need to be made. The poll also found that few homes were outfitted for safe and healthy aging. If your parents want to age in place, you may need to look honestly at their home to see if it can accommodate future needs, like mobility accommodations. A home’s safety concerns should be addressed as early as possible. Explore our checklist of things to take into account bel
Two things are crucial when creating a plan to age in place. These ones are often overlooked:
- Fall prevention is essential. Flooring choices are important. Look for non-glare, non-skid, textured flooring for stability. Older people with reduced vision or issues with depth perception find it helpful to contrast the color of the flooring with the countertops and other fixtures. Vinyl, wood, or laminate are typically the best options for durability and cleanliness.
- Keeping the home well-lit is safer. Eyesight may be poor, so well-placed lighting can make a difference. Avoid dark corners by replacing burned-out bulbs or add more lighting if needed. Strategically placed nightlights can light a dim hallway or kitchen at night. For even easier light management, equip the home with smart lighting or smart plugs that can be controlled via an app or voice command.
A Room-by-Room Breakdown
To get started with a few ideas for aging in place, let’s break down the critical issues to consider for main rooms in a home.
We spend many hours in our room sleeping and getting ready for the day. We often navigate our bedroom in the dark and possibly when we’re not feeling well, are injured, or are less mobile, so it should be as clutter-free as possible.
- On the ground floor. The stairs that have been climbed for years may become too difficult to manage daily. If possible, place the bedroom on the main floor.
- Upgrade the bed. The most essential piece of furniture in the bedroom should meet all needs. A bed, like this one from Dawn House, has an easily-adjustable height that allows users to easily get in and out of bed. It also offers optional support rails. Underbed lighting helps to reduce fall risk when getting up in the middle of the night, and relaxation features help your parents find the most comfortable position to ease aches and pains.
- Opt for sturdy and secure furnishings. Anchor tall furniture to the wall with safety straps or brackets to prevent a bookshelf or armoire from toppling over.
The bathroom may be one of the most important for safety, but that does not mean style must be sacrificed for function.
- Railings, bars, and grips. To provide stability when maneuvering in the bathroom and shower, install grab bars, anchor towel bars securely to hold weight if grabbed, and add a shower stool or built-in bench to sit down while showering.
- Install a walk-in shower. Stepping in and out of the bathtub requires balance and strength, which may be more difficult with age. Creating a shower without a door or curbless entry eliminates the trip hazard.
- Choose a taller toilet. A raised toilet will be easier to use thanks to its height and supportive hand grips. Look for toilets three to five inches higher than a standard one.
As physical abilities change with age, the kitchen is a critical area to address to make it both usable and safe.
- Keep ranges clear of items, so nothing like a curtain or kitchen towel touches the burners. Stove controls should have a large numerical display that is easy to read and located in the front, to keep from reaching over a burner.
- Consider pull-out shelves to maximize storage and reduce back strain in lower cabinets. Open shelves should contain your most frequently used items.
- Choose pulls and levers. A lever-handled faucet is easier to use. Change out small knobs to pulls that can be simpler to grab. Look for D-shaped or loop handles.
Living Room/Family Room
Make sure there is room to move around easily or for a wheelchair to turn around. If possible, consider removing some furniture or expanding the room.
- Consider widening doors and hallways wherever possible, for ease of use with a walker, wheelchair, or scooter. Doorways should be a minimum of 32 inches wide, but 36 inches is ideal.
- Tuck away electrical cords, move furnishings, and clear paths to safely walk around. Pay close attention to wobbly floorboards or loose carpets that need to be secured. Install rubber treads on steps to diminish slipping and remove area rugs that can be trip hazards.
Advances in Technology
Smart technology isn’t difficult to use. By incorporating technology into your parents’ routine, they can benefit from these devices to continue living independently.
- Smart technology. Cameras and doorbells allow you to see who is at your front door on your phone. Nearly every appliance comes in a smart version, allowing you to monitor what’s going on within. Even beds are benefitting from these new innovations—The Dawn House bed incorporates technology to bring sleep-enhancing features to every evening, like raising the head of the bed to alleviate the effects of snoring. You can experience it in person at Abt in the mattress section.
- Virtual assistants. Amazon Echo or Google Home devices can help homeowners manage their homes using their voice, whether they’re changing the thermostat, turning off lights or locking the doors. You can water your lawn, activate robot vacuums, close the garage door, or blast the air conditioner with phone apps, too. If you’re hoping to build your own smart home up from the ground, Abt’s specialists can help.
- Health monitoring devices. Watches with GPS capabilities can monitor heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure and much more. Even beds today, like the Dawn House bed, can monitor your health and sleep cycles during the night with health sensors that connect to a mobile app.
- Medical alert devices. In an emergency, these potentially life-saving devices can connect someone at the touch of a button to an emergency response center.
Aging in place is about preparing for a positive future, thriving at home. With a few upgrades from Abt and a little bit of elbow grease at home, it’s easy to ensure they’ll be completely happy and have full agency over their space and their daily lives. With careful planning, proper budgeting, and thoughtful design your parents can live happily, healthily, and safely in their home for years to come.