We have a great guest post this week from our guest author Kevin Wells of seniordiabetic discussing ways to help make you maintain your health as long as possible, while also taking into account the aging process and making your house feel like a safe place even as your body ages.
Did you know that 60 percent of senior falls occur at home and that falls are the leading cause of injury in older adults? Before you rush out to buy a safer home, ask yourself if you could remodel your existing home for aging in place. Aging-in-place remodeling can be cheaper than buying a new house, and you get the benefit of aging in a familiar place.
Changes to Expect as You Age
We go through a lot of changes as we get older, and some of those changes can ultimately affect how we live in our homes.
- You lose muscle and bone density, resulting in reduced physical strength and worse outcomes after falls. Rather than making every day a risk, fall-proof your home. Stairs present the biggest obstacle to aging in place, but there are ways around them.
- Joints grow stiff and ligaments and tendons weaken, leading to less flexibility. The clutter and cords that were once an annoyance are now potential fall hazards, and your old door and cabinet hardware can start to become a burden.
- Vision worsens and you need extra light to see. Without the ability to adapt to sudden changes in lighting, you need a home where the lighting is even from room to room and morning to night. Pay special attention to lighting in staircases and hallways, which tend to be dim, and in areas where you need task lighting.
Slowing Down The Changes
- Maintaining a balanced diet and consuming adequate nutrition is necessary to slow down bone weakening, muscle breakdown, and deteriorating eye site. Ensuring you have adequate intake of calcium (from choices such as milk and leafy greens) and Vitamin D (sunlight, salmon, fish oil, etc) throughout the course of your life helps maintain bone health, while bones continue to deteriorate with age, adequate calcium and Vitamin D can help keep your bones strong for longer.
- Adequate protein and total caloric intake is crucial to prevent muscle deterioration. If we eat too little (despite decreased hunger) and are not consuming enough protein, our muscles begin to break down
- Vitamin A is crucial for eye site, your orange colored fruits and vegetables tend to be highest in this nutrient. Additionally, if you have diabetes or uncontrolled high blood sugar, this can effect your eye health. By ensuring you control your blood sugar levels by balanced carbohydrate intake and meals that have a good balance of carb, protein and fat you can also slow down eye site deterioration.
- Weight bearing exercise is crucial for maintaining bone and muscle health, doing light weight bearing exercise (approved by your doctor) helps keep bones and muscles healthy, decreasing risks of breaks.
- While all of these are crucial to slow down this process, slow deterioration is inevitable. Therefore, it is important to know the right tips to make your home a safe place for you as you age.
Hiring a Service for Household Maintenance
As you get older, you may find it more difficult to complete chores and projects around the home. Tasks like cleaning, fixing a leak, and installing an AC unit can pose a risk of injury or falling for older adults. The good news is there are professional services that can help you with your home maintenance needs while keeping you safe from physical harm. Do an online search of services in your area.
Popular Aging-in-Place Remodeling Projects
You may be able to slow the effects of aging, but you can’t stop them. Instead of waiting until these age-related changes become a problem, remodel your home for aging in place before you need it. When your home is adapted for you, aging feels a lot easier!
Below are some popular remodeling projects for aging-in-place adults.
Tired of carrying groceries up the front steps or digging for keys in the rain? Pave a ramp to the front door for a seamless alternative and add a portico, package shelf, and smart keypad lock to make getting inside your home a breeze.
Adapting a two-story home is more challenging, but it may be cheaper than you think. The expensive option, home elevators, start around $40,000 for purchase and installation. However, stair lifts cost far less and can be removed when you sell the home.
More overhead lighting and task lighting in kitchen, reading, and office areas keep your home well-lit at every hour. Raise power outlets off the floor so you don’t have to stoop, and replace standard light switches with toggle switches or smart lights.
If you make any changes in the bathroom, add slip-resistant flooring, lever-style faucets, and grab bars. There are plenty of options for grab bars that blend in. If you opt for a full remodel, install a curbless shower with a built-in bench and choose sinks with knee clearance.
A comfortable kitchen makes eating healthy simpler. At a minimum, renovate cabinets and pantries with D-shaped hardware and organization tools like pull-down shelving. Depending on your budget, you can also replace traditional cabinets with drawers, elevate appliances, and install slip-resistant flooring.
Hiring Aging-in-Place Contractors
These aren’t small projects, which means you’ll want a great general contractor to manage your remodel. Your contractor can secure building permits for your remodel and hire the subcontractors needed to complete the job. Contractors who are Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists (CAPS) are a good place to start looking, but you should also understand the process of hiring and working with contractors to ensure your remodel is a positive experience. California Mobility Specialists, while not CAPS certified, can help guide your remodeling process and provide resources to find CAPs certified specialists.
Sometimes, no amount of remodeling can eliminate a home’s hazards. If the amount of work your home needs is unmanageable or too expensive, selling your house to buy new is a better choice. Instead of supervising months of remodeling, you can buy a house perfectly suited to aging in place and start enjoying your retirement!
I hope you enjoyed these great tips from our guest writer and would love to hear any feedback you have!
Wishing you a week of health and wellness,
–Ricci-Lee Hotz, MS, RDN
Denver’s Dancing Dietitian
A Taste of Health, LLC
“Improving Quality of life one bite at a time”
Image via Rawpixel