If you took a poll, you’d likely find that most adults over age 50 hope to spend their golden years at home. A recent study shows close to 90% of that population favor the idea of aging in place.
Unfortunately, most people who dream of growing old at home haven’t prepared for successful senior independent living. They don’t have a solid plan — a key factor to building the foundation for aging in place.
We’ve put together a guide with tips on a range of steps you can take to make your home ready for the challenges faced by people aged 50 and over. Use it as a reference to help you and your family plan for what can be one of life’s most exciting milestones.
Do You Live in a Senior Friendly Home?
An excellent starting point is taking a close look at your home’s environment. For example, is the house where you hope to age in place a senior-friendly home?
Making an informal assessment of the home is the first step. You may also want to work with a professional who specializes in home safety evaluation.
The ideal senior-friendly home includes multiple features geared toward preventing slip-and-fall hazards, such as:
- Non-slip floors
- Non-skid treads on stairs
- Textured strips in showers and bathtubs
- Waterproof shower seat
Your home evaluation should also include measuring doorways and hallways to ensure they can accommodate a walker or wheelchair. If the home is multi-story, you’ll need to provide safe access to the upper level. Consider installing a stairlift.
Ultimately, you’ll want a home that’s not only safe but makes day-to-day living as convenient and enjoyable as possible. It’s also critical to maintain a healthy body and mind. We’ll talk about that next.
Health and Senior Independent Living
Aging itself isn’t the issue. It’s all the health-related issues that come along with getting older. While you can’t prevent the natural aging process, you can do your part to stay healthy. And while we’re not dieticians or personal trainers, we know a healthy lifestyle helps foster a successful experience with independent living.
What can you do to maintain a healthy lifestyle? Glad you asked! Here are few pointers:
- Limit fast food and takeout meals
- Drink more water
- No smoking
- Limit alcohol use
- Take care of your skin
- Stretch your body every morning
With the concern about skin cancer, no matter your age, sunscreen or a moisturizer containing SPF15 or higher does make a difference in skin cancer prevention.
Your doctor can help figure out the best diet for your individual needs and preferences. They can also help with a program to help you give up smoking if that’s an issue for you. As far as stretching, most doctors who take care of older people provide a list of exercises you can do to maintain (or increase flexibility).
Mastering Mobility Issues
One in four adults in the U.S. deal with a disability. Mobility issues impact close to 14% of the disabled population. Reduced mobility doesn’t only mean a person has difficulty walking. Climbing even a short set of stairs becomes a serious challenge.
The most popular tip for dealing with mobility and stairs is to install a stairlift. Whether you need help navigating the stairs inside your home, or the ones leading from the sidewalk to a front porch, there’s an ideal lift for you.
Finding a stairlift dealer who can help you identify the lifts that will work inside and outside your home is a step you can’t miss. The ability to move between your home’s upper and lower levels practically guarantees your success at independent living.
Of course, you’ll also need to incorporate the suggestions offered by your healthcare provider to maintain wellness and safety in your home.
Seniors Living at Home and Technology
Using technology to make senior living more manageable and more enjoyable doesn’t need to feel overwhelming. If you’re already enjoying things like Smartphones, tablets, and watches, then incorporating other Smart technology won’t be difficult.
Over the past year or so, many seniors dipped their toes in and tried some of the latest technology. With temporary business closures, travel restrictions, and social distancing in place, we’ve all needed to embrace technology even on a fundamental level.
Helpful technology for seniors striving to age in place goes beyond social media. Here are a few ways using technology can make a significant difference for successful independent living:
- Virtual visits with friends and family (Facebook and Zoom)
- Telehealth – virtual medical appointments
- Wearable technology such as fitness watches and health trackers
- Voice-activated digital assistants — we’ve all heard of Alexa and Google Home
While we’re not endorsing any specific platform, we do know technology offers multiple ways to help you remain living independently. For example, imagine how much easier life would be if you could check the weather, order groceries, prescriptions, and monitor health conditions using your phone or computer!
If you’ve resisted the latest technology, then why not give it a try? Schedule a meeting with a tech-savvy son, daughter, or grandchild. They’ll love showing off their expertise and helping you at the same time!
Ask for Help Before You Need It
One mistake many people make is not asking for assistance until there’s a crisis. For seniors especially, asking someone to step in and help can feel uncomfortable. After all, you’re supposed to be independent, aren’t you?
There’s no shame in seeking help. Asking for advice before you need it can mean the difference between remaining in your home and needing to think about other options.
Take advantage of the expertise of your healthcare providers. If they specialize in caring for seniors, they have a wealth of resources to offer.
Involve your family. Let your kids help plan modifications to your home — both major and minor. Invite them over to help you assess your living environment to avoid missing potential improvements such as stairlifts that could make it a senior-friendly home.
Need Help Reaching Your Dream of Independent Living?
Following the tips in our guide is a great place to start on the journey of senior independent living. Making your home safe should be a top priority.
Here at Harmar, we specialize in helping seniors choose the best mobility tools. Subscribe to our newsletter for up-to-date information choosing the ideal stairlift for your home. It’s the best thing you can do to help maintain your independence.