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There are some simple things you can do to make your home a great place to age in place. Of course, if you have lots of money and can put up with the aggravation of remodeling, you can redo the bathroom and kitchen, widen all the doors, install ramps, or even install complex technology to keep safe at home. All of these changes are worth considering, but there are many inexpensive, easy things you can do right now to modify a home for the best age-in-place experience.

Declutter

From all the knickknacks and papers on every surface to large pieces of furniture, you might consider scaling down a bit. Get some help with this, maybe from a friend, your children, SeniorThrive!, or an organization professional. 

Don’t think of it as a dreaded chore that involves getting rid of the things you love. Think about it as a joyful trip down memory lane as you lovingly gaze at all your things, maybe take a picture of them to keep that memory, and then either find a good place for the item or get rid of it. You can throw things away, donate them to charity or look into a local buy-nothing group where neighbors offer and take various items. 

You can get bins, shelves, or other organizational tools and end up with a place for everything and everything in its place. Take your time and enjoy the process. It doesn’t have to be done all in one day and you may need to go through the whole house a few times to get everything right.

Lighting

Lighting is another issue to think about. You want good lighting everywhere so you can see. Poor lighting can help to contribute to falls. You can experiment with different watt light bulbs for more brightness. Or you can buy small, battery-operated, motion-detecting light discs to attach to various places on the walls. These lights will turn on when you are close to them and then turn off as you move through the house. 

You can string fairy lights, or Christmas lights, throughout the house. These can be motion-detecting as well. They can also be very beautiful!

Handrails/grab bars

Installing grab bars in the bathroom by the tub and the commode could increase safety here. This could be a handyman job where someone screws the grab bars into the wall. If you go this route, make sure the person knows what they are doing and that they put the bars in the studs securely.

You could also have removable grab bars that clamp to the side of the tub or be placed under the toilet seat. There are transfer tub benches that hang over the edge of the tub and allow you to sit on them when you are outside of the tub and then slide over into the tub. This eliminates having to step over the tub edge. A bedside commode could be put by your bed so you don’t have to go all the way to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Alternatively, you could place it above the toilet seat in your bathroom for a higher seat with handrails.

There are also handrails that can be placed by a couch, or under the cushions, to make getting on and off the couch easier. Railings along long hallways are another excellent idea. Make sure all grab bars and railings are secure, especially railings on stairs.

Floors

All floors should be nonslip. Throw rugs should be discarded, tacked down, or taped down. Thick carpeting or shag rugs might be replaced with wood floors, tile, or indoor/outdoor carpeting. 

Nonslip bathmats and nonslip floor strips can be put in the kitchen, bathroom, or any room that might have a slippery floor. Make sure the stairs have a nonslip surface. Some people put bright colored tape on the edge of each stair, so it is easy to see each stair individually.

Conclusion

These are just a few suggestions to get you started thinking about ways to age in place safely and enjoyably. Decluttering and organizing can actually make it easier to find things and cause your home more peaceful. Christmas lights everywhere all year long can help keep you safe and create a festive atmosphere all the time. You can enjoy the comfort and beauty of all of these suggestions as you go about your daily life in your familiar home. Ensure you have the resources (SeniorThrive!) and the support you need (family, friends, caregivers, and SeniorThrive!)

Innovative Home Assessments for Perfect Adaptations

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