The following is an excerpt from the upcoming book Chronological Order: The Fine Print for a Large Life, written by Jill Yesko and Laurean Kile.
If you have decided to “age in place” instead of transitioning, so many things can be done to adapt your existing home to increase convenience and safety.
Lowering cabinets, widening doorways, and replacing carpet with tile, wood, or laminate flooring are all ways to make it easier to maneuver and have access to sinks, food, and every day items in your kitchen and living spaces.
You can change where you “live”, or spend the most time, in your home. Using this approach, second floors can be used primarily for guests and storage, and first floors can be converted to include a bedroom and expanded bathroom if they don’t already. Bathrooms can be made larger, and step-in showers can be installed to replace traditional bathtubs. Grab bars do not have to be silver and institutional in appearance. Sleek, modern designs can be implemented, and many tools that have safety in mind can be concealed in stylish ways.
Consult an architect that specializes in Universal Design. According to the National Disability Authority, “Universal Design is the design and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability. An environment (or any building, product, or service in that environment) should be designed to meet the needs of all people who wish to use it.”
One of my clients in Pittsburgh spent a lot of time planning and working with an architect and builder, and completely renovated their home for the purpose of aging in place. We came in and packed up all of the items that would go to storage prior to the work. They changed the home to accommodate their needs, and flow of their activities in their retired lives. The outcome was incredible, and when we unpacked the boxes into the “new” home, everything made sense to them.
The National Aging in Place Council (NAIPC) has developed a great tool on their website (www.ageinplace.org), free of charge, to help you decide how you would like to live at home safely for as long as possible. They address the areas of housing, health and wellness, personal finance, transportation, community, social interaction, and education and entertainment. The guide is extremely helpful for narrowing down what your priorities are in terms of your environment and how you want to spend your time. It helps you determine how important it is for you to have access to medical treatment, the gym, friends, and shopping independently.
To learn more about the upcoming book, its authors, and upcoming events, visit www.chronologicalorder.info