5 Home Modifications for Helping Loved Ones Who Want To Age In Place

Did you know that this week is National Aging in Place Week? According to a 2018 AARP Survey “3 out of 4 adults age 50 and older want to stay in their homes and communities as they age.”

If you or a loved one are planning to stay and age in your home it’s important to consider what home modifications might be needed to ensure a safe living space.

nurse or helper in residential home giving food to senior man
  1. Remove Fall Hazards: According to the National Council for Aging Care “every 11 seconds an older adult is treated in an emergency room for a fall.” Falls are more common among the elderly and it’s important to remove potential fall hazards from homes including unsecured area rugs, unstable furniture, cords, and clutter. Check out this list from the National Institute on Aging for more things to be on the look out for.
  2. Invest in Bathroom Safety: Bathrooms remain one of the most dangerous spots in the home for all ages. For seniors planning to age in place consider adding grab bars to the shower/bath and toilet areas, installing a taller height toilet, purchasing a shower bench, and changing from a tub to walk in or roll in shower. Zero-entry showers, with no sill or lip to step over are safer.
  3. Upgrade Home Detectors: Add up-to-date and additional smoke/heat and carbon dioxide detectors to your loved one’s home.  Make sure they are in the kitchen, bedrooms, utility/HVAC/laundry, and common areas. Be sure to check the batteries at least 2x per year. Consider adding a natural gas detector near gas heating/hot water systems and in the kitchen if there is a gas stove. Many communities have local fire safety programs for seniors. You can find your local fire department with FEMA’s National Fire Department Registry search.
  4. Plan for Stairs Inside and Out:If there are stairs outside leading to the home, consider adding a ramp with a secure railing. Inside, consider moving the bedroom/sleeping space to the ground floor and/or adding a chair lift to the stairs. Also, if the home resident will need a wheel chair and/or walker, ensure the doorways inside the home and at the entrance are wide enough to accommodate the chair.
  5. Facilitate Technology Comfort: The amount of technology in every home has grown exponentially. Make sure your loved ones are comfortable with the tech they will use every day – TVs, appliances, security systems, thermostats, telephones, etc. Stay away from over-featured and overly complex tech that may cause anxiety or leave them stuck until someone can come over to help. For those who live alone or spend large periods of time alone, consider medical/emergency alert systems that are easy to use (for example: push button necklace alerts).

Federal employees and spouses plus their eligible family members have another resource available to them: an optional benefit for The Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP) that was established by Congress in 2000 and is overseen by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. The FLTCIP provides non-medical coverage for in-home care, care by friends or family members, adult day care, home modifications, care coordination, caregiver training, assisted living, and nursing care facilities. Like most insurance, you have to apply for the FLTCIP before you need it and at younger ages it’s more affordable and underwriting may be problematic at older ages.  You might want to consider long term care when you do your retirement planning.

Looking for more info? Check out the National Aging in Place Council’s helpful toolkit for planning to age in place.

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