The way Americans age is changing. Today, many active adults prefer to remain in their family homes rather than move to a residential care facility. Some find such options priced out of reach.
If you plan to age in place by remaining in your home, you want to ensure your safety. You also need to make arrangements to meet your basic needs. Regardless of your circumstances, you should take the following steps to protect your well-being.
1. Assess Your Abilities and Needs
As you get older, it becomes more challenging to do the things that you once did. Plus, you might still have concerns about your risk of contracting COVID-19 when you go out to do something like shop for necessary supplies. If you live alone, a sick day can mean going without — if you haven’t done so already, locate a reputable grocery delivery company near you.
You may find that you need more help with some household chores, such as mowing the lawn. You can feel tempted to let pride say, “I can handle it,” but be realistic in your assessment of your abilities. Call for help when needed, and shop around to find the most reputable individual. You might not have any doubts about the neighbor’s teenage son mowing your lawn. However, when it comes to housekeeping help, you want skilled and fully insured professionals to prevent any of your valuables from growing legs.
2. Invest in Technology to Stay Connected
If the recent pandemic taught people anything, it’s the importance of staying connected with loved ones. Fortunately, with the help of modern technology, you can talk to family on the other side of the globe. You don’t need to learn how to use computers if you don’t currently — devices like GrandPads make it possible to start live chats and share photos with the touch of an icon.
You can find other technological innovations to make aging-in-place safer, too. Medical alert systems can notify caregivers or emergency personnel if you fall. Seconds can count, and if you live alone, these devices can be a lifeline. You can also invest in medication dispensers that remind you to take your pills each day, and kitchen appliances that make prepping dinner less painful on arthritic hands. If you have a considerable budget, you can even find robots that respond to verbal commands.
3. Make Your Home Accessible
Accessibility options can make it more comfortable for you to maneuver around your home, and they may increase your property value. Nearly half of all adults have a chronic condition, and when they get in the market to buy, these features rank high on their list of desirables.
How can you make your home more accessible? Take the following steps:
- Install grab bars: Many falls happen in the bathroom, and if you use a wheelchair or a walker, you could encounter problems maneuvering to the tub or toilet. Grab bars give you something to solidify your balance. If you have an older home, you may need to hire a contractor to reinforce your walls to make them sturdy.
- Step-in tubs and showers: Stepping over your tub’s lip can result in a devastating and embarrassing fall. Step-in versions let you enter to get clean even with a walker.
- Replace your doorknobs: Standard twist doorknobs can be misery on arthritic hands and wrists. Instead, opt for those with lever handles that only require downward pressure.
- Lower shelves and closet rods: If you have arthritis in your shoulders, reaching overhead can pinch and even prove impossible. While you can find grip extenders, it’s best if you can grasp items you use frequently with your hands.
- Rearrange your furniture: Fortunately, this upgrade doesn’t cost a dime. However, eliminating tight spaces makes it much easier to navigate with a walker.
4. Stay Active in Your Community
Finally, you must stay active in your community, especially if your relatives live in distant locations. Research indicates that lonely seniors have a 59% higher chance of experiencing a physical and mental decline. Isolation can also heighten anxiety and depression, as the recent pandemic reminded society.
Find ways to get involved that you love. If you hesitate to engage in group activities like returning to the gym, find safe ways to mingle. If you have a smartphone, you can use Nextdoor and Meetup to find groups in your area. Many organizations have moved their meetings into the virtual world to reduce the risk of contamination. You can also volunteer with neighborhood cleanup groups and dog-walk for local animal shelters. These activities get you socializing with others but at a safe distance.
Age in Place Safely and Wisely With These Tips
You aren’t alone if you decide that aging in place is right for you. To protect your safety and health, take the measures above to protect your well-being.