Finding your forever home as a senior, a place where you can live out your golden years in peace, can take some doing. Most homes are designed with families and young people in mind. Senior-specific needs – mobility, self-sufficiency, and independence, among other things – are rarely addressed. Be prepared to pull up your socks and do some serious scouting to find something suitable. To help you out, the Lifestage Senior Advisory Agency offers this mini guide on features you should prioritize:
1. One-story homes
Single-story homes offer many advantages for seniors. They don’t have stairways, which makes it easier for seniors with mobility issues to move around. Everything is located on a single floor, which raises the accessibility. There are other benefits – easier heating and cooling, reduced utility expenses, easier escape during emergencies, easier to modify, and easier cleaning and maintenance.
2. No-step or senior-friendly entrances
Entryways can pose a fall hazard, not to mention be hard to navigate day in and day out. Look for homes with accessible entrances. For instance, some homes have wheelchair ramps or inclines instead of stairs. You may find these easier to use. AgingInPlace offers other ideas – stairs with easy-to-grab railings, slip-resistant steps, and well-illuminated surfaces.
3. Accessible bathrooms
The bathroom design is critical – according to Belvedere Home Care, 80 percent of all falls occur in the bathroom. As such, pay special attention to the bathroom when you’re picking a home. A “safe” bathroom is one with excellent lighting, anti-slip flooring, handrails, step-in showers (or similar), transfer benches, smart sensors, and raised toilet seating.
4. Accessible kitchens
If you’re planning to cook your own food, then you need an accessible kitchen too. What makes a kitchen extra accessible? Here are some examples – handy storage, a convenient sink, multilevel countertops, self-cleaning cooktops, a wheelchair-accessible kitchen island, a waist-high dishwasher, and safety devices like motion sensors, fire extinguishers, and smoke alarms.
5. Better lighting
You need extra lighting when you get older. As such, you should ideally look for homes that let in plenty of natural light. Besides helping you navigate better, natural light brings up your mood and is good for your health. Artificial lighting fixtures can complement any natural light that’s coming in already. For the best results, make sure any non-natural lighting is anti-glare and doesn’t hurt your eyes. Emergency lights and night lights are always nice to have.
6. Better flooring
Flooring is a major point of concern for seniors with mobility issues. Bad-quality or slippery flooring is a fall hazard. The best materials for anti-slip flooring are vinyl planks, carpeting, and cork. Look for flooring that is even and comes with few-to-none transition areas to traverse – like a gap between carpeting or a height difference between rooms.
7. Size – Is smaller better?
Last, but not least, is the size of the space. Sometimes bigger isn’t better – downsizing brings with it many benefits. Having a small home means you won’t need to spend as much time and energy on cleaning and maintenance. You have reduced maintenance expenses, too. You can use the freed-up time to maintain your health and improve your lifestyle.
Should you get a home warranty?
Are home warranties worth it? Home warranties cover home systems and appliance breakdowns. Compared to the cost of repairing or replacing an appliance or system, a home warranty can be cheaper. It can also give you peace of mind. Before deciding whether to get a home warranty, check the home inspection report for red flags. Furthermore, check if there are any existing warranties on your appliances and see what they cover.
Consider assisted living and community living
Sometimes moving to an assisted living or community living setting is better than aging in place in your own home. Granted, it reduces your independence, but you always have help on hand if you need it, whether that’s for ADL activities or healthcare. Furthermore, living with other people offers socialization opportunities and improves your overall well-being. Finally, such facilities offer greater peace of mind and a sense of safety. Lifestage offers a free senior placement service that can help you make an informed decision about what living arrangement best suits you.
Unless you get lucky and find a made-for-seniors home, you’ll likely have to settle for something good enough and then modify it to suit your needs. As such, make sure you set aside extra money for home modifications when you create your home-buying budget. Furthermore, keep in mind that making modifications takes time – sometimes six months or longer. Plan accordingly. Purchasing homeowners insurance and a home warranty can safeguard you against problems and be a worthwhile investment, too.
Guest Author Diane Harrison healthpsa.info
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Ty Strahl is the areas leading senior adviser. Her job is to help you navigate the many aspects of aging and to help seniors who are in transition to find the right solutions for their individual needs.