You have spent years planning your nest egg for retirement, but have you thought about preparing your nest too? The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 79% of falls occur in the home, and almost 30% of adults over the age of 65 reported falling at least once in the last 12 months.Whether you are well into your retirement years or happen to be doing home improvements years before that milestone, there are considerations to keep in mind that could make your home a safer space as you age.
A first step is to simply walk room to room, evaluating any safety or mobility issues that you may find. To assist you to safely retire in place, the National Council on Agingoffers comprehensive checklists to identify safety concerns and solutions within your home.
Here are some simple inexpensive improvements which may be good starting points:
Improving lighting in your home can be an easy fix. Consider adding motion-sensor lighting to hallways and stairs or adding increased overhead lights to better illuminate dark rooms.
Bathrooms can be one of the most hazardous rooms in the home. There are stylish ways to camouflage grab bars, a most-important addition to a shower or bath area. Adding non-slip rugs for the floor or gripping mats to the shower or tub can increase safety too.
Switch out knobs in showers, sinks and doors to ones which are easier to turn.
Add charging stations at waist-height at convenient locations in bedrooms, living rooms and other frequented spaces to ensure devices are ready to be used when needed. Strategically placing electrical outlets where one can easily access them without bending can be a welcome improvement as well.
Add guiderails to help with walking. These can be decorative but sturdy. Consider spaces such as hallways, front walkways, and paths to the garden. These can help make the world a wider place if your mobility is limited.
If you are doing major home improvements, consider eliminating flooring transitions, taking out steps into showers, or adjusting space concerns such as counter heights and doorway widths.
If you would like help identifying safety concerns in your home and possible solutions to consider, there are professionals who can assist. Your insurance (including Medicare) may cover the cost for an in-home assessment by a trained nurse or occupational therapist when ordered by a doctor. If you are considering home improvements, a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) can help your contractor plan for your needs. Taking time now to plan for the future – or to help a parent or loved one now – can allow you to stay and thrive in the nest that you’ve worked so hard to build.
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