Staying safe in your country cottage
As we saw in our previous post, Aging in Place in the Country Part 1, cottage life has many benefits and attractions, whether for a short break or a longer stay. Being out in nature and away from the city, taking in spectacular views and a tranquil lifestyle is enough to convince anyone of the joys of spending time in the country. But to fully enjoy these countless benefits, some aspects of cottage life need to be considered to make sure everyone is as safe as possible.
So, let’s explore some other factors to keep in mind for safe aging in place a countryside cottage…
Power & Technology to Keep you Safe
One of the realities of cottage life is that power outages are not uncommon. With fallen trees, thunderstorms or snowstorms, many cottagers are well aware of the possibility of going several hours or even days without power. The first step to avoiding discomfort in blackouts is to be prepared. Flashlights, candles and lanterns for lighting, ice boxes and coolers to keep food from spoiling and propane stoves to enable you to heat food and water are all handy items to stock your country home with. For those who plan on longer stays at their cottage – or a permanent move! -it may be worth investing in a generator or alternative backup power source for any electronic devices. Power banks for cell phones and other small devices will help make sure we can keep them charged in the event of a power outage.
Broadband and wi-fi services continue to improve in rural areas, and as they do, they ensure communication is kept open. This is a significant safety feature for those who look to extend their cottage years, enabling them to stay in touch with relatives as well as access telehealth services or make use of home monitoring devices.
Emergency Planning for Seniors in the Country
As well as considering being isolated, medical support and power outages, cottagers should also have plans in place in case of other kinds of emergencies. These may include having access to a storm shelter or planning what to do in the event of a fire. Ensuring everyone is prepared for any emergency can make a huge difference if there comes a time to evacuate or shelter in place. Road and Property Associations can be an excellent shared resource for making such plans. For example, your association may have a portable fire pump and hose system using water from the lake.
Recreational Activities for Elders in the Countryside
One of the great parts of going out to a cottage is taking part in different recreational activities families may not be able to do back home. Of course, many of these activities are physical in nature; canoeing, kayaking, sailing, hiking and cycling, which means as we age, we need to think about how our bodies and needs are changing so that we can continue to enjoy them. Think about how you store or launch any watercraft. Can storage locations or techniques be improved to make it easier? And how about bike or hiking paths, can they be cleared, or are there some easier routes? Having a BBQ is always a fun way to spend time with family and friends; just make sure younger family members are the ones to lift and change propane bottles or light the grill!
Futureproofing your Cottage
Cottages come in all shapes and sizes and in all conditions too. Modern cottages represent the peak of luxury living, but only a small number of properties can boast all state-of-the-art features that will be ideal for seniors aging in place. Both indoor and outdoor accessibility need to be considered. More often than not, cottages are built on natural rock, surrounded by uneven terrain and slopes. That means entrances have to be raised, often by eight to ten feet. Although making any alterations to the terrain is usually out of the question, minor modifications like adding handrails or grab bars or even an access ramp in place of steps are certainly feasible.
When it comes to inside the cottage itself, the same age in place safety measures should be considered as you would want for your home. These might include;
- Adding or improving lighting throughout the cottage.
- Removing trip hazards such as any loose rugs.
- Installing grab bars, shower chairs or raised toilets.
- Widening doors for any mobility devices to get through easily and smoothly.
- Checking heating and air conditioning sources function properly.
Another consideration to take into account is your appliances. Are they safe? Are they easy to use? It isn’t uncommon for cottages to end up being the recipients of recycled furniture and appliances from the main family home. This can be a great way of saving money and recycling, but if more time is going to be spent at the cottage, it is definitely worth getting any older appliances inspected to assure their safety.
Finally, consider contacting an occupational therapist to advise you on making your home safe for seniors.
When thinking about aging in place, it’s important to consider all of your properties. That means for those who own or have access to a secondary residence, these considerations and possible modifications need to be looked at and planned for so that you can continue enjoying our country’s natural beauty long into your later years.