Aging in place is a great alternative for you or your elderly loved ones. It is a great alternative to elder care facilities in that it is much less expensive and puts less of a drain on what may be limited retirement funds.
It also allows you, or your elderly loved one, to remain in surroundings that are familiar to them and not have their life thrown into the upheaval that a move can cause.
In order for aging in place to work there are some things that are necessary. The CDC defines this as “…the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently and comfortably.” In order to do that, the home must be able to accommodate the needs of someone who might have special needs or limited mobility.
Here are the basics that are needed for aging in place to work.
Entry without Steps
The home should have at least one entrance that is step free. Having a ramp for easy wheelchair access is a great idea. Having a way to enter the home safely no matter what the mobility needs of the occupants are is essential for aging in place.
Wide Hallways and Doorways
Older homes tend to have smaller doorways. This makes it difficult to navigate with wheelchairs, walkers or other devices that are needed as mobility declines. You want to make sure those doorways and hallways are at least 36 inches wide, but 42 inches is even better.
If you are considering having multiple generations living in the same home, larger doorways and hallways are a great idea. That way no matter what the mobility of the people living there may be, getting around will be a snap.
Keep it to One Floor
It isn’t a big deal if the home has a basement. The idea is that all of the essential things that someone living in the home would need are all on one floor. Typically this would include the kitchen, bathroom with tub or shower, bedrooms, living room and laundry.
Any stairs that would involve carrying heavy items should be eliminated and those facilities moved to the main floor.
Easy Use Switches, Thermostats and Outlets
Having a thermostat at eye level for a standing adult is great until someone in a wheel chair has to use them, and this goes for light switches as well.
Keeping the thermostat no higher than 48 inches off the floor and the light switches 42 – 48 inches off the floor makes them easy to reach no matter the mobility.Keep the outlets in the 18 – 24 inch range as well so that they can easily be reached from a sitting position. Falls or tumbles due to bending over to plug in lights can be a serious source of injury.
Another consideration to consider is easy-to-use doorknobs and faucets to accommodate use by those who sufferer from arthritis and similar ailments.
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