The Baby Boomer’s Guide to Aging in Place

Thanks to modern medicine, a longer, healthier life is possible. And if you’re like many baby boomers, you’ll want to spend that time staying in the comfort of your own home for as long as possible. You can accomplish this, but it’s crucial to plan ahead. Age-related injuries (like hip fractures from falls) and diseases (like arthritis) may creep up on you slowly or happen suddenly and unexpectedly. You can’t predict when you’ll need to adjust to physical limitations, but you can plan for them well in advance by making a few home modifications.

Step-Free Entrances

There may come a time when a step-free entrance can be a lifesaver. Back surgery and lower body fractures, for example, can make it difficult to navigate the steps to the front door. If your home lacks at least one step-free entrance, consider contracting with a handyman to build a ramp with a sturdy handrail. It can be customized to suit the existing d├ęcor of your home.

When choosing a handyman or contractor, you can ask whether they are CAPS certified. Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists, as designated by the National Association of Home Builders, have specialized expertise to assist aging adults with home modification decisions.

Second Story Living

For seniors living in multistory homes, stairs can become problematic. Some decide to move the master bedroom downstairs. However, they’ll still need a full bathroom on the ground floor, and expanding an existing half-bath can be a significant investment. Plus, not occupying the second floor can seem like a waste of space.

Another solution is to install a step-free transport between floors. Baby boomers may consider having a stair lift installed. Another option is an elevator–a feature that’s becoming increasingly common in private homes.

Interior Doorways

No one plans to end up in a wheelchair or with a walker, but it might happen at some point. Whether it’s a temporary or permanent change, the need for a bulky assistive device can create problems when trying to navigate inside the home. Interior doorways are often too narrow and they sometimes feature thresholds (those bumps that mark the transition from one type of flooring to another).

If thresholds can’t be eliminated altogether, they should be beveled and shortened down to a maximum of one quarter inch. The doorways may need to be widened by a contractor if they are narrower than 32 inches. In addition, interior doors can be placed on offset hinges, which allow the door to swing completely away from the doorway.

Baby boomers who choose to age in place can look forward to the independence and freedom it brings. And by making a few home modifications well before older adults think they’ll need them, peace of mind can be easily attained.