Whether or not you love your professional life, your senior years are a chance to live exactly as you want. You might keep working, brain sharp, because you love feeling productive. Or maybe you want to step away from earning money to relax or follow a passion.
Whatever path you choose, you’ll want to feel empowered in your day-to-day life. One way to do that is to continue living in your own home as opposed to some type of senior housing.
A big misconception regarding independent living is that it’s “somehow impossible into one’s golden years,” says Kris Lindahl, CEO and owner of Kris Lindahl Real Estate, based in Minneapolis–Saint Paul, Minnesota. “That’s really not the case, and as a population we’re actually trending upward when it comes to seniors aging-in-place.”
Lindahl and his team have created a detailed guide for those who might want to age in place.
“I like to help people out with home-related questions,” Lindahl says. “I found a lot of guides covering this subject were either too thin or incomplete, so I wanted to make something comprehensive that addresses every part of the house. I think it’s important for seniors to know their options, how much work might be involved in retrofitting a house — and whether or not it would be realistic to do so.”
To be sure, aging-in-place isn’t for everyone, Lindahl says. “I think one needs to consider what kind of support system they have in place with family, friends and neighbors. Everybody’s needs are unique.”
Here are 3 things that can make a home better for elders.
1. Install grab bars.
“As a general rule, grab bars are not exceptionally expensive,” Lindahl’s guide notes. “Homeowners may need to install several near the toilet and shower or bathing facilities, in a variety of sizes.”
2. Choose the right flooring for your bathroom.
Flooring often varies room to room. A surface that’s easy to clean and creates the least likelihood of injury from falling is best for bathrooms. Rubber flooring is non-slip and soft, but can be expensive.
“As an alternative, vinyl tile or plank flooring can give the appearance of hardwood or tile, with easy maintenance and a slip-resistant surface,” Lindahl’s guide says. “Cork may feel softer and warmer under feet, but it must be properly sealed to be appropriate for bathrooms.”
Carpet is also soft and warm, but it’s harder to clean and can breed mildew or mold if it gets wet regularly.
3. Consider a closet redo.
Add lighting if your closet lacks it. And make sure you can reach everything. Consider installing drawers to reduce or eliminate overextension in deep spaces. Clothing rods might work better at lower settings. Also, consider installing pull-down shelves. They simplify the process of placing items high and maximize space without requiring a step-stool — potentially dangerous in its own right.
Learn more about journalist and wellness writer Mitra Malek at www.mitramalek.com.