Aging In Your Home Safely & Gracefully
5 Things to Consider
With seniors being more active and healthier than the previous generation, they want to age in their own home safely & gracefully and delay moving into a retirement home as much as possible or avoid it altogether. This is called “Aging-In-Place”.
Your type or size of your home will play a big factor in your decision to stay in your home or whether you should move.
If you have a bungalow, or condo, any type of home on one floor, its easier for you to stay in your home with the appropriate modifications.
Bungalows or Condos
Ramps can be built for walkers or wheelchairs going into a bungalow, doorways can be widen to accommodate larger wheelchairs. And of course, bathrooms, kitchens, flooring and lighting can all be modified as you need.
Two Story Houses
But what about two storey houses? Can they be modified? Of course, they can, but modifying a two story house may come at a higher price tag depending on the needs.
If you need assistance in going upstairs, there are stair lifts for both straight and circular stairs. Or do you make a main floor room a bedroom, and modify a bathroom to include a bath/shower depending on the accommodations needed.
You can modify the bathrooms, kitchens, doorways, lighting the same way as you would with a bungalow.
What happens with the stair lift when you want to sell the house? Some sellers try to sell the house with the stair lift still installed hoping they will catch the “right” buyer that needs it. While others, have removed the stair lift, patched and painted the walls to erase any signs that a chair lift was once on the stairs.
Most homes can be reasonably accommodated to fit the needs of an older senior. Depending on the accommodation, the government may kick in some money to keep mom or dad at home. Mom or dad staying in their family home is better for them if its manageable, and it saves the government thousands on government long-term care facilities.
If the senior is quite mobile, then the home needs to be modified to ensure that the senior’s home is safe from falling & other accidents. Click here to read 6 Ways to Prevent Falls in your Home.
If the senior has mobility issues, this is where the costs can come in.
If a person uses a walker, that’s where the advise of 6 Ways to Prevents Falls comes into play.
If the person is in a wheelchair, there are many more accommodations needed. Counter heights need to be adjusted in the kitchen and bathroom to accommodate a wheelchair under the counter. Depending on the size of the person, they may need a larger sized wheelchair which means door openings need to be widened to accommodate the width of the wheelchair.
Lift & motor can be installed in a home for those that need support in the washroom or need support sitting up in bed. These accommodations tend to be costly not only for the lift & motor system, but support in the ceiling will need to be strengthened in order to accommodate the lift holding the weight of a person in the air as they move along the system.
The #1 place for accidents for in a home is in the bathroom. Add a senior who can easily slip on a wet ceramic tile in the bathroom or needs support in the bathtub, bathrooms can become dangerous places.
Bathroom modifications can be simple like adding grab bars near the toilet and bathtub, making sure there are no slippery mats to slip on, or it can include adapting the bathtub so that a senior can walk in and sit down while showering. In some cases, the need may include adding a lift in the washroom for a senior who have difficulty supporting themselves and needs that additional support. Whatever, the need the bathroom definitely needs to be carefully looked at to ensure that the safety of the senior is top priority.
The type of support from additional outside help will depend on the needs of the senior.
One senior wanted her husband with dementia who wandered to stay in their home so much that she was willing to be his caregiver so that he could stay home with her. Of course, additional caregivers were brought in to give her respite. An alarm system was installed so that an alarm would go off if an outside door was opened.
Other seniors who are quite independent may live close by to one of their adult children who can pop over every day or every other day to check in to see how they are doing and if they need anything.
If the adult children do not live close by, and the senior needs regular assistance, this will need to be factored into the practicality of the senior living on their own, or the cost of bringing in a care giver as opposed to the cost of more assisted living.
Do you have enough money to do the necessary renovations in the home? Is it worth it to do the renovations? One wife wanted her husband to stay at home so she had a lift & motor installed in the bedroom as he needed support for sitting up and moving.
Do you need the money from the home to live on? Some homes have gone up significantly in value since they were first purchased and you need the cash and will buy something with less money.
With reverse mortgages, some seniors who are running out of cash use the equity in their home to support themselves.
Some seniors have a very close attachment to their neighbourhood. They have lived in the neighbourhood for 30+ years and are still surrounded by many of the same neighbours. The kids have all grown up together, the nneighbos had many street parties when the kids were young, and now that they kids have moved away, the senior adults, have each other to support and lean on each other. In fact, the neighbours have become like their extended family.
The decision on whether to age in your family home can be an emotional one. Its not a one size fits all decision. What works for one senior may not be the same choice for another senior. Going through each area to consider your options will help you make a decision that is just right for you.
I’m Debi Collinson. A Designer Helping Seniors. Aging-In-Place Specialist, Multigenerational Home Living Designer & Downsize Seniors. Since 2006, as a Stager, I have been helping clients make their homes look like they came out of a magazine. I have helped clients earn money for their home beyond their expectations. Due to demand, my services have expanded to include Downsizing Seniors, I help seniors age in their home safely by recommending accommodations they need, and I help families make changes & accommodations in their home to create a Multigenerational Home where everyone can live in harmony under one roof.