Getting the Home Ready For Positive Senior Years

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Home renovation isn’t just about necessary repairs or getting the house ready for sale. If you’re planning to age in place, there’s an opportunity at hand. Renovation may start with creating an aging-friendly home. However, take it a step further and you can optimize the house’s functionality. Your home environment can set you up for a well-rounded retirement that’s healthier and gives you more free time. The trick is to balance accessibility with functionality.

Home Accessibility

There are entire checklists of home changes you can do to optimize your home for senior living. We’ll focus here on the bigger-picture changes that may be your priority.

Navigating Your Home. Home visibility is one of the factors that ordinary renovations might overlook. Visibility includes both light levels and home decoration. A gloomy house with few windows or lamps can be tricky to navigate in, especially when your vision changes as you age. However, decoration can also play a role. If you have wooden floors, wooden wall panels, and wooden furniture, the lack of contrast can be disorienting.

You can solve this problem by making the space brighter and adding contrast. If it’s outside of your budget to knock more windows into the walls, install lamps. When you have dark wooden furniture, paint the walls white. Use bright accent colors to mark doorways and objects like light switches.

Getting Around Safely. Falls are one of the leading causes of injury among seniors. That makes preventing falls one of the major goals of any home remodel. Along with obvious fixes like nonslip mats and tucking power cords away, you may need to rethink your flooring. It may also be a good idea to acquire one of the many life alert systems available, from wearable to home installed.

Glossy tiles and hardwood can get slippery. The thick carpet may be almost as bad. Seniors who struggle with balance and lifting their feet could easily stumble over these soft surfaces. Thick rugs are also difficult to roll a wheelchair over.

Speaking of wheelchairs, is your home accessible for these devices? You need at least one zero-threshold entry to the home, such as a ramp. Since wheelchairs range from 25 to 36 inches wide, you may want to widen your doorways to at least 34 inches.

Finally, general clutter is a real barrier to moving safely through the home. Are there clear walking paths between major points in each room? Is there enough space to turn a wheelchair or walker around? Some experts suggest keeping a five-by-five-foot zone of clear space in the middle of major rooms for this reason.

Electronic Upgrades. Senior-optimized technology, also called silver tech, has the potential to change the way people age at home. However, much of this tech relies on internet access or connections to a central hub. At a bare minimum, check if you have a phone signal and internet access from every room in the home.

Smart homes have the potential to make life a lot safer and easier as you age. These networks of lights, automatic door locks, and voice-activated gadgets often work via a virtual assistant or central hub. Remodels give you the chance to set everything up, learn to use the hub and add or streamline services.

Home Functionality

Your home may be well-lit and easy to walk through, but is it set up to work with your needs now and in the future? Consider the many life hacks for aging that you can bring to your life.

Doing Daily Tasks. How will you keep the household running in the future when you may have less energy or mobility? Renovations can lead to a lower-maintenance home, taking a load off in your senior years. Inside the home, look for upgrades that don’t need much care. These could be appliances like self-defrosting refrigerators or easy-to-clean furniture like laminate countertops. If you’re working on the outside, you might as well upgrade to long-lasting materials like vinyl siding and concrete exterior stairs.

Creating Space for Your Activities. Decluttering and home renovations are your opportunities to create space for your hobbies and passions. If you want to take up painting, you can set up a nook near the window with the best lighting or view. Addicted to audiobooks? Consider installing systems like Amazon’s Echo Dot. These are a convenient way to listen from any room in the home.

Improving Your Physical and Mental Health. How will you stay fit in the future? Do you have a clean, appealing place to roll out a yoga mat or hop on a treadmill? Can you renovate the yard into a space you’ll enjoy gardening in? Do you have a safe place to play with the dog?

House renovations can do a lot for your mental health as well. Studies suggest that household clutter and limited light can harm your health. It affects your sleep, energy levels, and mood. Simply clearing out and opening up the space can boost your mood.

In fact, one of the best things you can do for your well-being, now and future, is to carve out a stress-free space. Introverts may treasure that reading nook they set up where they can have some peace and quiet with a cup of tea. Extroverts can appreciate a pleasant room to catch up with friends and family. Renovations aren’t just about creating a practical home. They can also bring you closer to your dream home, one with the space to grow in your senior years.

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