5 Ideas to Make Your Home More Age-Friendly

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For many older adults, the idea of staying in their own homes holds far more appeal than uprooting entirely late in life. Rather than “starting over” at a nursing home or assisted living facility, they prefer to age in place, independent and separate from a healthcare setting, maintaining their personal connections with community and friends.

If you’re considering this option, take some time to survey your home. Is it accessible and livable for residents of any age or level of mobility? What updates will you need to make? To help you get started, here are 5 ways you can make your home more age-friendly:

1. Update doors and doorways.

 At any age, you want to be sure you can get from room to room without trouble. Specifically: 

 * Replace doorknobs with levers, which push down easily.
 * If possible, keep door frames at 36 inches (or more) wide to allow wheelchair access.
 * Zero threshold doors are easiest to navigate for those in wheelchairs or using walkers.
 * Install a ramp to at least one entryway into the house, if necessary. A simple wooden ramp is the least expensive option, but add slip-resistant material to prevent accidents. 

2. Add accessible outlets and switches.

The most accessible homes have easy-touch light switches about 42 inches off the ground. Ample electrical outlets throughout the house can handle any necessary medical equipment; outlets should be 18 inches from the floor for optimal accessibility.

3. Modify stairways.

To allow for the possibility of a chairlift in the future, stairways should be four feet wide. The steps should be deep enough to accommodate the entire foot, and you’ll want to install treads.

4. Install grab bars and handrails.

One important way to prevent accidents is to install handrails on both sides of stairways. In the bathroom, put in grab bars by the toilet and in the bathtub and shower. A tub transfer seat can be useful, though the best option is to remove the tub altogether and instead make sure the shower is safe to use.

5. Add light.

Because eyesight tends to worsen with age, it’s a good idea to add more and brighter lights in the house, for better visibility.

Next up: 9 Things to Automate When an Older Adult Wants to Continue Living at Home

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