Most seniors want to stay in their New York City home and hold onto their independence for as long as possible. In fact, according to 2012 The United States of Aging Survey, about 90 percent of senior respondents had the intention of staying in their homes for the foreseeable future—or at least five to ten years.
Of course, life has a way of throwing a big ol’ wrench in our plans. As we age, our health, coordination, and mental faculties deteriorate. Simple acts we used to do with ease are all of a sudden much more complicated, and navigating your home begins to take a little more time. That’s why if you want to age in place, it is essential to prepare your home by making modifications that assist with accessibility and mobility as you grow older. Making renovations and preparations ahead of time allows you to continue living in your home while also catering to your needs as an aging senior.
Bathroom Safety for Seniors
The kitchen may seem like the most dangerous spot in the house with its knives and fire hazards, but believe it or not, most household accidents happen in the bathroom. In fact, The New York Times called the bathroom “the most dangerous room in the house” in a 2011 write-up. Many falls happen in the bathroom because of moisture and slick surfaces. Falls are one of the biggest threats seniors face and are the “leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries for older Americans.”
To help keep seniors safe, there are various modifications one can make in the bathroom:
- Install a handheld showerhead and bench in bathtubs that make bathing simpler. Avoid taking baths that involve getting down and up in the tub.
- Grab bars give you something to hold on to when you need to get up. Place one by the toilet and one by your shower bench. It also doesn’t hurt to put one on the wall just in case.
- Nonslip surfaces are your friend. You can find decals that help with traction or replace your current floor material with something that is slip free.
More Home Safety Tips for Seniors
Even if you aren’t in a wheelchair or use a walker, getting up and down stairs becomes more difficult as we age. Consider installing safety ramps over steps to make them easier to navigate. As our eyesight deteriorates, it can become harder to read labels on store-bought items. Buy a label maker that prints large, bold lettering and start to label items yourself, so you always know what you have. Aging causes a decrease in circulation as well as fat loss that make us feel cold more often. Help keep your heating bills down while staying comfortable by having your home re-insulated, and your windows and doors sealed to ensure air isn’t leaking in or out.
The Other Option
If making all the modifications you need cost a small fortune, or your house is too large for you to handle, there is always the option of finding a new home. Many seniors choose to downsize where they live as they age, so they have less to maintain and a smaller space to navigate. This can also be a chance for you to relocate to a place you’d rather be—like closer to grandchildren! Talk to your family about the options available when making this big decision. To get an idea of what it might cost to buy a new home, review listings online or contact a buyer’s agent in your area.
Most people want to stay in their own home as they age, but sometimes the home we have isn’t ready for the challenges of growing older. Making modifications ahead of time helps those who want to age in place, but if your New York City house or apartment is too much to maintain, it may be worth it to downsize and find a new home.