As the baby boomers near retirement age (the first boomers turn 65 in 2011) more and more people are considering their housing options. An increasingly popular idea in housing is the idea of Aging in Place which simply means staying in your current home as you age rather than moving to some type of retirement community. A large majority of people would prefer to stay in their homes rather than move.  According to the Clarity 2007 Aging in Place Study by Prince Market Research “89% of senior respondents say that aging in place is very important but 53% were concerned about their ability to do so.” The fact is that due to preference or necessity, the vast majority of us do stay in our homes as we age.  The Journal of Housing for the Elderly has estimated that 70% of baby boomers will spend the rest of their lives in the place where they will spend their 65th birthday. Most of us have pleasant memories associated with our homes and the idea of having to give up our homes because of an inability to live independently can be devastating. Another study shows that over 70% of 55+ households live in communities that are neither age qualified nor occupied mostly by people over age 55. Most of these communities consist of older homes that were typically not designed or built with the needs of senior citizens in mind.

What’s the solution then? While there is now an awareness of the value of building homes incorporating the principles of Universal Design which seeks to design and build homes to be usable by all people to the greatest extent possible without the need for adaptation, (I’ll explain more about Universal Design in my next column) most of us are now living in homes that weren’t built with these principles in mind. Home modification and remodeling can make your home more comfortable and enjoyable to you as you age. And while these accommodations are always easier and less costly to incorporate into a home when it’s first built, you may be surprised at how simple and affordable some of these changes can be.

In order to determine what changes can be made to your home you need to consider not only your current health and capacity but look forward at how they are likely to change as you age.  Here are some of the major items to look for to make your home more accessible.

  • At least one bedroom and one bathroom on the first floor.
  • An entryway that is accessible with no steps that has no threshold or a low threshold and is protected from the weather.
  • Lever style door handles.
  • No changes in levels on the main floor.
  • Bright lighting in all areas.
  • A low maintenance exterior.
  • Non slip flooring, especially at the main entryway.
  • An open floor plan, especially in the kitchen and dining area.
  • Handrails at all steps and grab bars in bathrooms and as needed.

Solid Rock Enterprises, Inc. has the expertise and experience to assess your home and make whatever changes are necessary to make your life more comfortable and enjoyable as you Age in Place. Please get in touch with us to get a free Personalized Housing Needs Assessment.  You can reach us by phone at 540-384-2064, email at cmoore@solidrockenterprises.com or log on to our website at www.solidrockenterprises.com

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