Aging-in-Place: What Today’s Trends Mean for Baby Boomers
Ninety percent of older Americans would prefer to live in their own home as they age, according to AARP. The strong desire to remain in one’s own home can generally be attributed to place attachment, or a deep connection to home. Place attachment describes a special bond between people and specific places. Many older adults have spent years or decades in their current homes; some of their most memorable moments happened there with children, family, friends, and community. Contemplating the idea of packing up those memories and moving somewhere new can therefore pose a huge emotional hurdle.
Oftentimes staying in our homes as we age means modifications are necessary. And they do not have to always be very complicated or disruptive to do. Here are some things to consider as family members or even yourself think about modifications to your home.
- Steps: Install sturdy handrails on both sides; secure or remove carpeting.
- Bathroom: Install grab bars and grips; remove throw rugs here and elsewhere in the house.
- Lighting: Ensure proper lighting and light switches, particularly in hallways, entryways, and stairs; install soft path lighting for nighttime.
Ease of Movement
- Steps: Reduce the number of steps or step height; increase horizontal step depth for easy side-stepping.
- Pathways: Remove steps to the bedroom and bathroom; clear the pathway to these rooms.
- Furniture: Reposition furniture, entertainment systems, and other potential obstructions to movement.
- Kitchen: Install multi-level or seated food prep areas.
- Bathroom: Install a heated sink, toilet assistance space, and a no-step shower or bath lift mechanism.
- Outdoors: Install sun and rain protection.
- Power sources: Ensure backup in case of a power outage.
For those who strive to live independently, good planning and a smart home design can set them up to realize their desire to age-in-place.