Many older adults want to “age in place” – stay in their own homes as they get older. Studies have shown that 90 percent of adults over the age of 65 would prefer to stay in their current homes as they age. This is now even more true during a pandemic. Many studies have found that feelings of loneliness are strongly correlated to a variety of health issues including an increased risk for cancer, depression, dementia, and cardiovascular issues. Because of COVID-19, we may see health issues or even premature deaths among vulnerable senior populations who have been quarantined while living alone.
There are also many benefits to aging in place. First, you can maintain your independence. By aging in place, seniors can maintain personal independence. They are able to live their lives as they see fit, and they enjoy a sense of sensibility unavailable to many elderly adults.
Second, a person’s home is the most important place in their life. A home offers a sense of familiarity, comfort, and security. For many seniors, the emotional value of home is far more important than its monetary value. They want a space that doesn’t simply act as a home, but actually feels like one. Aging in place allows older adults to stay in a familiar and cherished space. This is a critical and underrated factor in seniors’ quality of life. Aging in place also tends to improve seniors’ quality of life, which improves their physical health. It also insulates them from the bacterial and viral risks found in senior living facilities, reducing their chance of contracting a serious illness.
A few changes could make your home easier and safer to live in and help you continue to live independently. These renovations may seem like a daunting, pricey task; however, in the last blog post we mentioned a reverse mortgage provides an additional stream of income for seniors. A reverse mortgage may provide the funds for the needed or desired renovations that would allow you to maximize your quality of life for years to come as you age in place. “In the first months of the pandemic, reverse mortgages likely looked like a good way for retirees to tackle their expenses when other investments were cratering,” writes FA columnist Eric Rasmussen. Here are a few changes you could make to your current home so it is more “Age in Place” friendly:
- No-step entry ways
- No-step thresholds
- Garage Lift
- Building a roll-in shower with multiple shower heads (height adjustable handheld shower head and fixed)
- Lowering the bathroom sink and making sure there’s proper knee clearance
- Installing an elevated toilet
- Installing grab bars
- Ensuring there’s ample maneuvering clearance
- Building a walk-in closet with storage at differing heights
- Installing rocker light switches that are easier to turn on compared to a more common flip switch
- Lowering cooking surfaces
- Mounting a wall oven or microwave at reachable heights
- Making sure there’s an abundance of storage space within reach
- Providing a desk/work area with knee clearance