Published on April 29, 2022

Aging in Place

two chairs on a front porch

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines aging in place as “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently and comfortably, regardless of age, income or ability level.”

According to a study by AARP, more than 80% of people 45 and older want to age in their own home. The question becomes, however, is that home capable of meeting your aging needs?

Many considerations must be made in order to age in place. Limitations in mobility and balance, vision, strength and cognitive abilities are common with age. Careful planning is required to ensure your home is properly designed and equipped to accommodate for these limitations and allow maximum safety and independence.

Many of us, when purchasing or building our homes did not ask ourselves, “Will a wheelchair or walker fit through this doorway?” or “Do I have at least one entry that can be used if I am unable to climb steps?” Questions such as these are important to ask if we intend to remain in our homes as we age.

General Considerations

  • Widen doorways and eliminate steps and thresholds or install railings on both sides of steps.
  • Remove or secure rugs or doormats to decrease fall risk.
  • Lever door handles can further increase ease of entry.
  • Adequate lighting near entries is important.
  • Motion sensor lights provide energy efficiency as well as hands-free convenience.

Bathroom

  • Install taller toilets and threshold-free showers with grab bars and a hand-held shower head to enhance mobility and safety.
  • Hands-free faucets and lever handles decrease the grasp strength required to use sinks and showers.

Kitchen

  • Place frequently used items on lower shelves of upper cabinets and upper shelves of lower cabinets to reduce the need for climbing and stooping.
  • Tie loops or ropes to refrigerator door handles to increase ease of opening.
  • Sit at a table or lowered countertop to prepare meals if you are unable to stand for long periods of time.

Lighting

  • Choose light fixtures with multiple bulbs so that if one bulb burns out, the fixture continues to provide lighting until the bulb can be changed.
  • LED lighting decreases the frequency with which bulbs are changed, which is helpful if you require assistance with such tasks.

Occupational therapists are rehabilitation professionals who help people maintain their maximum level of independence with activities of daily living and aging in place. For more information, call 1-800-THE DESK (1-800-843-3375).

Most of us want to grow old in our own home, but is your home capable of meeting your aging needs?