You have spent your life building up your home so it’s comfortable and suits you, but as you age, your ability to live in your home becomes less easy. It is important to adapt your home and the way you go about life to stay safe and secure and also to maintain a decent quality of life. No one likes to think of growing old but there are ways to adjust your home to your needs as you age.
Downsize Your Home
This can be a heart-wrenching decision. You have probably been in your home for a long time, brought up a family there, and spent your life with your partner. Contemplating leaving a nice three-bed semi for a one-bedroomed bungalow is a difficult decision to make but it does have advantages. A smaller property is cheaper to run, will require less furniture, and be easier to get around – particularly if there are no stairs. There may also be financial benefits such as realizing the equity or proceeds of the sale. It is vital to consult a registered financial advisor before making any decision on selling your home.
Adaptations and Additions
Whether you downsize or choose to remain in your home, there is quite a number of adaptations you can make and equipment you can use to make life easier. It’s a case of deciding which will work best for your needs. It is also not necessary to make all the changes at once. You can adapt your home as your needs change and grow.
Before making decisions about changes, in the UK it is a good idea to contact your local council for a Care Needs Assessment. A social care worker will visit you to assess equipment, adaptations, care, and additional support you need to live at home. Specialist equipment recommended by the assessment team is provided free of charge by the local authority (walking frames, raised toilet seats, etc…) as are any specific recommendations and adaptations that modify your home if they cost under £1,000 (ramps, railings, external lighting, etc…) For recommendations over £1,000, you may qualify for a grant. Homeowners and tenants can qualify for a Disabled Facilities Grant so contact your local authority.
In the US, many of the home modifications necessary for individuals with limited mobility can be costly. Therefore, various federal and state organizations and private non-profit charities offer grants to subsidize these remodeling costs. If you are a senior citizen, your city or state housing department may have programs in place to help defray the remodeling costs. Likewise, if you are an individual with limited mobility due to a disability, it’s worth consulting with the Department of Disabilities in your state as well as the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy.
Simple changes are the addition of equipment to help you with daily tasks. There are aids to help you move around your home such as grab rails, walkers, bed frames and hoists, stairlifts, and lift-up chairs, and there are all sorts of devices available to help in the kitchen such as a kettle tipper, one-handed chopping boards, and cupboards with pull out shelves. For assistance with personal hygiene, bathroom equipment includes a bath lift, a level access shower, shower seats, and toilet frames.
There are also aids and devices for specific issues and disabilities such as failing eyesight, impaired hearing, and arthritis. Even the simplest task you now find difficult can be made easier with some kind of aid such as a sock aid, jar opener, or a helping hand grabbing device for picking things off the floor.
Safety around the home, in general, is also an important consideration. If you live alone, you need a quick and easy way to inform someone if you have a fall or injure yourself. The obvious is a mobile phone that you keep close to hand at all times, but you might consider a personal monitor that is connected to a national network.
Look online or in mail-order catalogs for a wide range of items for assisted living. You may also have a local mobility shop.
There may come a time when you need to accept that even with all the assisted living equipment and house modifications, you cannot go on living in your home in a safe manner. There are several options to consider:
- Residential care home
- Sheltered housing
- Nursing home
These options depend on the extent of the help you need but they all mean leaving your home. Another option is to engage a live-in carer. Obviously, this means you need to have a spare room but there are benefits to this lifestyle other than just being able to stay in your home. According to Helping Hands, the quality of care is higher because of the one-to-one relationship; care and support are personalized to your specific needs; you gain companionship and friendship; there are no restrictions on when you can see family or receive visitors, and you can keep your pet if you have one.
A noteworthy example of the work carried out by Helping Hands is the case of Bob and Betty, an elder couple requiring live in care as Betty lived with Alzheimer’s. After getting to know the family and their requirements, we matched them with our live-in carer, Melissa, who soon arrived to provide ongoing support.
“Melissa is extraordinarily calm,” Bob said. “She will do anything to help and knows Betty so well that she knows when to pull back if she can see her anxiety rising. She cares efficiently and expertly and it has made such a lot of difference and relieved a great deal of stress. I really do not know what I would do without her” (The full case study is available here).
Help and assistance when you grow older comes in many forms. The more you take advantage of what is available, the easier you will grow old gracefully.
Aayush AsitKumar Patel says
I am an AGNG 320 student at the Erickson School of aging. Living a life with utmost comfort is everyone’s priority. As you age, it gets tougher to manage your needs, comfort and health. This post provides a through process to achieve a safe and secure life for older adults. The example of having a social worker install equipment’s at one’s home reminds me of the chapter fall prevention. Older adults suffer through injuries due to lack of supportive equipment’s in their house. Your blog helps prevent and assist elderlies in every possible way. Moreover, I like the idea of nursing homes. Having company and support of others can boost your mental health. Having personalized service can take care of all your requirements. This can reduce stress of managing oneself and creates a friendly environment.
I’m an Aging student at the Erickson School of Aging. I really like this post because of how practical it is. I especially like the idea and suggestions mentioned in the Adaptation and Addition part. These suggestions are something the elderly can do to improve their living conditions. It also a great way to renovate, which can breathe life into an old environment that they’ve been living in for a long time. During the chapter on fall prevention, we also discussed different methods we can use to reduce falls for the elderly. One of the suggestions made in Haber, the author of our textbook, is to install tools that make the home more accessible. The example Haber gave was to install handles, lights, rails, etc… which is similar to the ideas given on this post.
Hi, I am currently an AGNG 320 student at the Erickson School of Aging. I really enjoyed reading this blog and thought it was great that there were different options that older adults can consider. Most older adults live with their spouse or alone in the comfort of their own home. As adults age, they may have trouble moving around and do not have the support of other people to help them around the house. I agree that downsizing to a one story home can be beneficial although it may be hard to move out of a home where there were lifelong memories of children growing up. Having a single story home means that older adults don’t have to worry about using stairs and everything is on the same floor. The addition of external support such as grab rails and additional lighting can not only make it easier to move around but it can reduce the risk of falling.
Cathy Zarti says
Greetings, I’m currently a student at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). My major is the Management of aging at the Erickson School of Aging. The current assignment is to find a blog that interest you and to describe how it relates to concepts studied in our class. I chose your blog because our last chapter was concerning Long-Term Care and End-Of- Life Care. In that chapter it provided many different options to consider, as to when it’s time to change your living arrangements. This can be due to physical or mental health. I enjoyed how your blog provided simple suggestions with easy to follow instructions on adaptations and additions. I also appreciated how you made one see the brighter side of embracing the decision of downsizing or making changes to the home as one ages. I believe the majority of people would prefer to age in place in their homes. You have shared a wealth of information that will make their modification of living space less challenging. One great idea that I found interesting in our studies was Elder Co housing. The idea allows living out your remaining days with others in a supportive community, either by purchasing a large home, or taking over an apartment building. By doing so you share expenses, take care of each other and age in place having the comforts of home and being surrounded by those whom truly cares for you.
Hi, I am an AGING 320 student at the Erikson School of Aging. This is a great blog post, I really enjoyed reading it. It’s great that you provided multiple different options. You also made sure to go in depth for each option. I agree that there are many adaptations that can be made to make life easier at home. I’m glad that you pointed of some of the more expensive modifications as well as some of the cheaper modifications. One thing that I have found through research are non-slip mats. They are very inexpensive and effective. These can be placed inside the shower, the bathroom and outside the bathroom to prevent falls. In class, we researched about adapting spaces to accommodate older adults. During my research, I mainly focused on nursing homes or adapting a home, but never considered moving into a different home all together. This is a great option for some people. There is less space to worry about maintaining, and many communities are usually ran by companies that come and maintain the outdoor spaces.
Hello. I am an Aging 320 student at the Erickson School of Aging. One particular section that stood out to me in this blog was “Adaptations and Additions.” I agree that many of the obstacles that older individuals face can be made much easier with the help of various items (such as falling insight, tools to easily pick things up to decrease the likelihood of falls, etc). Also, I too believe that emotional support from one’s family is a huge part of living gracefully. In my opinion, it is necessary for these individuals to have family members as well as a support system to assist them in consulting with the Department of Disabilities and seeing if it would be possible to get their homes more old people-friendly (for example, by adding railings anywhere where there are steps).
Another point that I find to be very important is to downsize their homes. Often times, I find it to be very common that older individuals live in large homes that they have lived in with their children. I find it to be both very overwhelming as well as dangerous for older people to live in large homes without any assistance. This is why I believe that downsizing should definitely be a consideration for older individuals, and as we have talked about throughout this semester, social support (for example, conversations with family) is often times needed, especially when thinking about many of these life-changing decisions.
Hi there. I am an Aging 320 student at the Erickson School of Aging. I agree with the various points made in this post. One point that stood out to me was “Adaptation and Additions.” This is because, in the class, we discussed how the number of injuries in older people is increasing due to them falling. One argument that I had made was how I think that adding handlebars around their place of residence can make a difference and be immediately available for stability. In the long run, this can lower the number of visits to the emergency room which will also lower the cost of medical care. I really appreciated how this post focused on the overall quality of life in older people. A new perspective on how that quality of life can be achieved was provided.
Hello! I am an Aging 320 student at the Erickson School of Aging, and I very much enjoyed reading your blog post. I believe the concept of Aging in Place is very important, and your post provides numerous ways an individual could modify their home as they age, in order to have a safe and smooth transition into older years. As individuals grow older, ADLs become more difficult to execute, and maneuvering throughout the home may become more of a challenge. I am glad that you recognize the various barriers older adults may face in their homes, and provide options the individual has, such as downsizing, making adjustments in the current home, moving into a care facility, etc. I think it is important to acknowledge the many different approaches an older individual could take when adjusting their home environment, because different individuals need different means. I believe the big takeaway from your post is the importance of the quality of life for all aging individuals. In order to age successfully and happily, an individual must be able to thrive in their environment, not be hindered by it. As our population continues to grow, I believe the concept of Design Think, when constructing homes, becomes more and more crucial. Utilizing Design Think when building future homes will create homes that allow the individual(s) to age in place, and avoid having to make alterations or adjustments to how they’ve lived thus far.
Hello, I am an AGNG 320 student at the Erickson School of Aging. I agree with the many points you made in this piece. Humans try to resist change and have difficulties adapting to change so it is no surprise that older adults find it difficult to give up their larger home for a smaller one. But, there are many benefits as you mentioned such as a cheaper home with less furniture which makes it easier to get around. This is an incredibly important point to bring up to older adults and educate them about the benefits and importance of downsizing their homes. In my class, we have analyzed different methods for lowering the risk of falls in a home by adding enhanced lighting throughout the home and removing loose carpets and unnecessary furniture. Thus, it is crucial that older adults are on-board with this plan of action since not doing so can pose a danger to their physical and mental well-being. Also, it is important that the older adults maintain their independence and freedom so downsizing their home is a small change in comparison to placing them in nursing homes. But, there may come a time, as you mentioned, when these older adults have trouble caring for themselves and need external help such as nursing homes. Nevertheless, I completely agree with your stance on the issue of larger homes for older adults and am on-board with advocating for downsized houses.
I’m an Aging 320 student at the Erickson School of Aging. I believe that the points you have made about living gracefully are insightful and agree that older adults should consider downsizing their home. Homes with too many stairs can be a barrier for them to access different areas of the home. Thus, downsizing their home is an option to manage their home more easily. On the other hand, if the older adult prefers not to downsize their home there are tons of devices that promote mobility throughout one’s home. For example, the use of stair lifts has been a popular option for older adults who fear of falling or have a hard time moving between floor levels.
As you mentioned, nursing homes have been implemented as an alternative when home modifications just aren’t enough. In nursing homes, it is required that there are certified nursing assistants trained to help the most challenging residents with back up 24/7 nursing supervision (Haber, 2016). Before families consider putting their loved ones in a nursing home it is important to ensure that the nursing homes has a homelike feeling to it, activities that are meaningful to residents, and that the staff is actively engaging with the residents on a deeper level (Haber, 2016). A live-in-carer can also be an alternative; however, a downside about this is that there are less qualifications and skills that a person needs to meet. Yet, this may be more financially feasible for older persons.
Hello, I am an Aging 320 student from the Erikson School of Aging,
Older adults also usually live alone or just with their spouse as their kids are typically at the age where they have moved out, with their own new families. Furthermore, as adults age they frequently lose some of the physical and emotional support that they may have had from their children so it is important that older adults are still receiving the necessary support when they do not have as many people around to help them. I also strongly support this post because the addition of external support such as grab rails, additional lighting and smaller objects such as one- handed chopping boards that you have mentioned that are usually not thought of can make substantial differences. These additions can help prevent falls, and visits to the emergency department that can be costly and lead to permanent damage to the body. Throughout the duration of the course with the Erickson School of Aging, I have learned that most adults that experience hip fractures, which are the most common fractures related to falling, are not able to regain all of their previous function (Haber, 2016). Statistics such as these lead me to believe that taking the time to install safety features such as bed frames and left- up chairs can be necessary for people to live as long as possible in the setting that they desire.
Living in a small house can give you more disposable income, more time for family and lower stress.
Jason Burton says
We have a good section on our dementia enabling environments website on adapting your home to overcome the disabilities of dementia.