Some homes already have the necessary elements for safely aging in place, while others lack the details required for a safe and accessible environment and need some retrofitting. Before making a decision about whether aging in place is a viable option for you, or for an older loved one, it’s a good idea to do an accurate assessment: does your home measure up as needed?
Safety and accessibility: why it’s so important for successful aging in place
Home can be a dangerous place for older adults. Here are some statistics from Age Safe America:
- 90 percent of older Americans say they favor aging in place, yet 85 percent have done nothing to prepare their homes for aging.
- Falls account for 25 percent of all hospital admissions and 40 percent of all nursing home admissions. Most fall injuries among older people occur inside the home and an additional 23 percent happen outside, but near the house.
- More fall injuries are caused by falls on the same level (vs. stairs) and from a standing highlight, i.e. tripping while walking. Many of these falls, and the resulting injuries, can be prevented by taking steps to eliminate or fix potential hazards in and around the home.
- Heating equipment is the second leading cause of fire death and the third leading cause of injury to people ages 65 and older.
- Cooking is the third leading cause of fire deaths and the leading cause of injury among people ages 65 and older.
Download our free guide, Should You Stay or Should You go? How to Decide Between Home and Senior Living.
Assessing how you home stacks up for aging in place
At first glance, you might think there aren’t any hazards in your home. But here are a few questions you might ask as you take a tour around your residence, with aging in place in mind.
- Is it easy to get in and out of your home safely?
- Is there ample lighting from your front door to your vehicle?
- Are there steps from your front door? Secure handrails?
- Is there a front sidewalk with cracks or uneven sections?
- Is there someone you can call upon to clear outdoor walkways of leaves or snow?
- Is there a shelf or surface near the front door for packages, keys, etc.?
- If there are stairs, are they well-lit and secure? Is there ample lighting?
- Are doorways wide enough for mobility devices if needed?
- Are pathways throughout your home clear and free of clutter?
- Is all carpeting firmly attached? Are there throw-rugs which can slip and cause a hazard?
- Are there handrails in the halls?
- Is your furniture stable and unlikely to wobble?
- Are chair legs the appropriate height, and not too soft or deep, so that it is easy to stand?
- Are light switches easy to reach?
- Are there areas of clutter on the floor or other trip hazards
- Do you have non-slip flooring?
- Is lighting adequate?
- Is there a bench in the shower? Grab bars? Easy-to-reach levers?
- Is the toilet raised?
- Is there pull-down shelving as opposed to overhead storage?
- If you are reaching for an item, do you have a sturdy step stool?
- Are heavy items easy to access?
- Are your appliances easy to use and in good working order?
- Is there a fire extinguisher within easy reach?
Other safety factors to consider
Living at home can also present other issues for an older adult which can affect their ability to age in place safely. For example, are they able to get to the market for groceries, or the pharmacy for medications? Are they able to safely prepare meals and store leftovers? Medication management is another issue. Everyday tasks, such as housekeeping, yard maintenance, and home repairs can also pose challenges.
Then there’s the costs of aging in place, from home health care to assistance with daily chores, transportation and more, not to mention expenses incurred with general home maintenance.
At The Herrick House, we understand the needs of our residents
We know how important it is for each person to remain close to family and friends, to the neighborhoods where they lived and worked, and to the things that are most familiar. We would love to tell you more about our warm and inviting community.
Personalized support with the highest level of professionalism. Download our free guide, Should You Stay or Should You go? How to Decide Between Home and Senior Living, or contact us. We’d love to hear from you.