While many can only dream of the day they’ll retire, for baby boomers, that dream is quickly becoming a reality. By the year 2030, approximately 20 percent of Americans are expected to be age 65 or older, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But retirement doesn’t necessarily mean relocating to a senior community. More and more, adults choose to “age in place,” remaining in their current home, even after retirement. Here are a few ways to add extra convenience today — and ensure a safe home in the future.
Change up common areas
When thinking about the long-term, start with the layout. In a perfect world, it’s ideal to have all the key living spaces — bathroom, kitchen and bedroom on the first floor. If your home wasn’t built with a first-floor bedroom or bath, and stairs have to be a part of your plan, install no-slip strips on the edge of each stair to help limit trips and falls.
Next, make sure there’s plenty of room to move. Aim for doorways that are at least 32 inches wide, though 36 inches is ideal. Tight corners and doorways are a challenge for those with walkers or canes. For stress-free opening and closing, change out door handles from traditional knobs to lever handles for an easier grip.
Then, focus on the flooring. Installing carpeting can provide warmth and cushioning for you to enjoy now, and offers an added element of safety when it might be harder for you to maneuver around in the future. Choose a low pile carpet to minimize tripping — too much shag is a safety hazard. Area rugs are a major no-no, as unsecured rugs and loose carpet are one of the main causes for slips and falls. If you can’t bear the thought of losing your area rug, use carpet tape to secure it firmly to the floor.
Boost the bath
If you can only update one place in your home, make it the bathroom. The bathroom typically offers the most opportunities for injury. In fact, roughly 234,000 injuries occur annually in the bathroom alone, as stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An easy way to incorporate safety is to install grab bars. Today’s grab bars are stylish, fitting in seamlessly with your space, rather than seeming obtrusive and sterile. Install them near the toilet, (make sure you have a comfort-height commode for easy sitting and standing) as well as in the shower. Some models, like the corner shelf with grab bar from Moen, pull double duty adding an element of additional storage you can take advantage of immediately, providing room to store your shampoo, and will help keep you safe while entering and exiting the bath. Check out retailers like Lowes for a wide array of options that are fashionable as well as functional.
In the shower, a handheld showerhead, like the Magnetix Engage showerhead from Moen, is an ideal option for those who may want to be seated while they bathe. Engage with Magnetix is also handy for cleaning the shower, by eliminating bending and squatting which can be hard on your joints as you age. Finally, at the vanity, choose a faucet with lever handles — they’re easiest to grip and turn — and install sconces near the mirror for additional lighting.
In general, the most important advice for any room in your home is to think efficiently. Locate items that work together near each other to make tasks easier today, tomorrow and in the years to come.