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A large number of St. Louis homeowners are currently living in their dream homes and wouldn’t ever think about leaving. But as we get older, our homes can pose some challenges for us. Or maybe aging in place isn’t something you’re considering yet for yourself, but you’re concerned with the wellbeing of an older parent or family member. Whatever the case, safety and accessibility need to be addressed as we age. Here are some tips to ensure we can age in place at home safely and successfully:
One of the biggest challenges for older homeowners is navigating the stairs — inside and out. With multiple trips up and down stairs every day, it’s important to properly assess any risk. If only a bit more stability is required, make sure the railings are secure and easy to use. The stairwells also need to be properly lit and the light switches should be accessible at both the top and bottom of the steps. If climbing the stairs begins to pose a problem, consider installing a stairlift to guarantee safety.
The average bathroom is full of slippery surfaces, and protecting against falls is one of the most important safeguards when aging in place. One simple solution is to add grippy bathmats to the floor of the tub and any other surface that can get slippery. Adhesive strips will also help add another layer of protection. A tub and shower chair (like this one) can be very useful, along with hand bars for support.
We covered improving the lighting in the areas containing stairs, but bright lighting is a good idea everywhere. Adequate lighting is particularly helpful for someone getting up in the middle of the night to go to the kitchen or bathroom. They need to be able to see their path clearly. Installing additional lighting or even upgrading to automatic motion-sensor lights can make a big difference. The outdoor lighting should be addressed as well — make sure the driveway and any paths to the house are very well lit.
After the lighting has been checked and modified wherever necessary, the entryway itself deserves some additional thought. Is there a way to access the home that doesn’t require using stairs? Could you create this option by installing a ramp? Having a plan in place will make it easier to navigate any challenges as they arise.
Finally, to successfully age in place, you need to develop a protocol for maintenance. Think about things like lawncare, snow removal, AC and chimney inspections, and gutter cleaning. These are just a few areas that will need regular attention they may be beyond the capabilities of the homeowner. Making connections with the right professionals and scheduling everything in advance will make sure the maintenance is taken care of when it should be — and will help make the home a safer place.
If you’d like to talk more about aging in place, or if there’s another matter we can be of assistance with, please get in touch. We’re always happy to help.