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Whether you’re thinking about your own future and want to make sure your home can accommodate you comfortably as you grow older, or you’re considering some safeguards for someone you love, there are quite a few solutions to safely age in place in your Chicago home. Getting older can prove challenging, but when you’re aware of the modifications you can make, you’ll be able to navigate your home safely for many years to come:
Ease of Entry
Our walkways can be slick, snowy, or icy for a significant part of the year, so starting with how you enter and exit your home is a smart first step. You’ll want to make sure that the porch, steps, walkways, and driveway aren’t in need of any repairs. All of the pathways should be completely stable. You’ll also want to ensure that the lights fully illuminate the walkways in the darker hours. If you’re concerned that you won’t be able to handle snow and ice removal yourself, you’ll need to have a plan for that. Check any railings for stability too. With a little attention, you’ll be able to reduce any risk of slipping or falling.
We covered the importance of bright lights outside your home, but the interior is just as important. Our eyesight gets poorer as we age, so begin by looking at any areas that could be better lit. Switch to brighter bulbs, add more lamps, or even have additional lighting installed to see comfortably at any time of the day or night. Automatic lights, on a timer or motion sensor can be very helpful.
This is mostly applicable in the bathroom, where the tile flooring and tub or shower floors can become very slippery. This is one of the highest-risk areas for falls in the entire home. You can easily find mats or strips that stick to the floor of your tub or shower that will improve safety. A floor towel or rug in front of the tub and sink will also reduce the potential for slipping.
Like everything else, home maintenance can prove more challenging the older we get. Having a maintenance schedule for the year will allow you time to find someone to address the tasks that you may not be able to do yourself. As I mentioned previously, ice and snow are big risks, so someone will need to ameliorate those throughout the winter months. The tasks that require climbing — like cleaning gutters — should also be outsourced. It’s important to be entirely confident in your ability to accomplish a task successfully before you undertake it.
Plan in Advance Whenever Possible
One of the keys to successfully aging in place is to try and plan for home modifications before the moment that you need them. Looking ahead to potential needs and challenges that might arise can give you ample time to plan for them without the stress of needing them to be solved right now.
Many of us don’t want to think about decreased mobility or what we won’t be able to do on our own as we get older. But prior planning is the key to staying in the homes we love for as long as we want.