According to a new survey conducted by AARP, 77 percent of seniors wish to stay in their current residences as they grow older — but a third would need to make a few home modifications in order to prevent falls and injuries while aging in place. Below are five things things seniors can do to stay safe and healthy in their home as they age.
1. Interior Home Modifications
Falls are a major cause of injury, hospitalization, and death among seniors, accounting for more than 950,000 hospitalizations, three million trips to the emergency room, and 32,000 deaths each year. Moreover, there are approximately 36 million falls among seniors each year — and about eight million result in one or more injuries to the head, bones, and hips.
To reduce the risk of falls and fall-related injuries and fractures, several interior home modifications should be made whenever seniors wish to age in place. A few of them include:
- Bathroom modifications. Zero-entry showers, grab bars near toilets and bathtubs, and smart lights can all make bathrooms more accessible.
- Improved stairway lighting. Stair-related injuries are common among seniors, but an electrician can add light switches and bright lights to the top and bottom of stairs to increase visibility and prevent falls.
- Kitchen renovations. Prevent injuries while washing dishes and preparing meals by opening out the kitchen so seniors can move around more freely.
- Non-slip flooring. Remove area rugs from floors or add non-slip backing to reduce the risk of falls, and place anti-fatigue mats in places that tend to get wet (like bathrooms and kitchens).
2. Exterior Home Modifications
In addition to modifying a home’s interior, it’s important to make a few exterior changes to reduce the risk of falls and fall-related injuries. Be sure to install bright motion sensor lighting along walkways, sidewalks, pathways, and near each door — and make the home’s entryway more accessible by installing a ramp.
Contractors can help with sculpting the land for an accessibility ramp, and it’s easy to find local landscape grading services by conducting an online search for “grading contractors near me.” Be sure to compare contractor costs and reviews before requesting quotes, and look for companies offering discounts and coupons if you’re looking to save on installation costs.
3. Virtual Assisted Living
Home modifications are crucial for aging in place, but smart technologies can also help seniors to stay safe and healthy while remaining in their homes as they grow older. Known as virtual assisted living, AIPatHome.com lists in-home technologies that can help boomers and their loved ones with everything from securing their homes against intruders to answering their doors via a mobile device.
A few in-home technologies to utilize when aging in place include:
- Smart locks, smoke detectors, and emergency contact systems.
- Smart home security systems.
- Video doorbells.
- Online grocery shopping and meal delivery.
- Prescription medication delivery.
- Accessibility settings for smartphones and mobile devices.
- Telehealth and teletherapy.
- Smart plugs and power strips.
- Sensors for doors and windows.
- Medical alert devices.
These smart technologies can help older adults to stay safe and healthy while aging in place, as they allow them to meet with doctors and therapists, order groceries and meals, and connect with their loved ones via a smartphone, tablet, or another mobile device.
4. Nutrition and Exercise
Eating a nutritious diet and getting plenty of physical activity also aid in fall prevention, as both play a major role in senior health and wellness. Gentle exercises like walking, tai chi, yoga, and swimming improve balance, flexibility, and strength among seniors, while dairy, nuts, seeds, cruciferous vegetables, and beans all help to build strong bones. Other senior-friendly exercises include chair yoga, pilates, bodyweight training, and cycling.
5. Transportation Services
Even if seniors are not comfortable driving a vehicle as they grow older, they can still get around independently with ridesharing services like Lyft, Uber, and Uber Assist (for those requiring additional assistance). Other transportation services include GoGoGrandparent, Veyo, iTNAmerica, and public transportation services.
Online services like Instacart, Shipt, Walmart+, Thrive Market, and Imperfect Foods offer home grocery delivery, while Home Chef, Blue Apron, and Sunbasket deliver meal kits and premade meals to subscribers. Qualifying seniors can also have meals delivered to their homes through Meals on Wheels.
Aging in Place is Easier Than Ever
If seniors wish to remain at home throughout their Golden Years, it’s important to start thinking about the different modifications that should be made to their home environment, diet, and lifestyle. Some seniors might even prefer to downsize their home and move somewhere smaller and more accessible, especially if modifying their current residence would be too costly or time-consuming.
Modifying a home for aging in place isn’t a quick process, and seniors should start early on to ensure that they’ll be able to achieve their goal of living independently at home as they grow older. Aging in place is easier than ever thanks to assistive medical devices and other in-home technologies, but that doesn’t make home modifications any less important.