While it might seem many years away, if you want to stay in your home longer, start planning and preparing now. Taking action over time will allow you to live independently longer than if you wait until you’re older.
Most people want to age in place; a recent University of Michigan survey revealed that 88 percent of respondents aged 50-plus want to age in place. But that same report (which is from the university’s National Poll on Healthy Aging) also revealed that while these 50 years and older folks want to live in the home they’re living in, very few have put thought into how they might adapt their living space to be safe and comfortable for them when they’re older.
Those adaptations are difficult but they do require time and energy, along with money, and asking for or hiring help (whether that’s from friends, family, community organizations or businesses, says the University of Michigan). Given that there are all of these considerations, along with budgeting for the years to come, it’ll be a easier process to make these changes over time.
U of M shared four tips for successfully aging in place:
Start planning now. Chances are you haven’t started, since those years of your life seem far off. But time will fly by, and even though you may be resistant to thinking of yourself losing your independence (such as being able to drive yourself around), putting in that time to consider yourself older will work to your benefit. Beth Spencer, a retired geriatric social worker at the University of Michigan Geriatrics Center, suggests walking through your home with a critical eye and considering how you will live there and move through the space when you are older. Consider the stairs you have, how you cook, go answer the door, do laundry–your day-to-day movements in your home.
Next, make those small renovations to make your home safer. You can complete these over time; perhaps plan to make one change each month or each quarter. One month you might have grab bars installed; the next month, a railing on the staircases that are missing one. Tackle your lighting; make sure each room is well-lit (have an electrician install ceiling lights in the rooms that currently don’t have an overhead fixture). Incorporate smart-home technologies that help aging in place easier, such as a doorbell camera and a device you can wear that will notify a loved one if you fall.
For more about how you can make aging in place easier by starting your preparations now, including the last two tips, you can read the full University of Michigan article here.