For many seniors, retirement can be a wonderful opportunity to travel, spend time with family, and relax a bit after years of hard work. For some, however, moving into the senior years can be a little stressful as thoughts of modifying the home and preparing for the golden years become necessary. Many seniors find it difficult to remain in the home they’ve lived in for years or even decades due to the size of the space, having to traverse stairs every day, or being unable to take care of a large lawn, yet many individuals want to remain in their home for as long as possible. For this reason, it’s imperative to take a look around your home to gauge what might need to be updated or fixed in order to make it safe and comfortable.
One of the first things you’ll need to look at is how accessible your home is to you and whether it will still fit your needs a few years from now. Think about how you’ll be moving around your home should you fall into ill health; would you be able to maneuver a wheelchair through it? Will you be able to walk up and down a staircase to your bedroom every day? Are the countertops low enough for you to be able to reach if you’re sitting down?
If you think some modifications need to be made, it’s time to contact a contractor. Here are some of the best tips on how to get started.
Find the right contractor for you
When work needs to be completed on your home that you know you aren’t capable of doing–big jobs that require a professional–it’s important to find the right contractor. You may have heard horror stories from people who hired a contractor for a job only to have them leave it half finished or charge an exorbitant amount above what they originally calculated. That’s why your first step should be to do a bit of research. Check out some online reviews, or look at Angie’s List to see which contractors in your area received the most positive comments from customers.
“It can be difficult to hire contractors and know what you’re getting. You’re spending a lot of money, and you’re dealing with your home. If they do it wrong, there can be a whole lot of heartache,” says Angie Hicks, the company’s founder.
Start by laying out exactly what you want done, rather than asking the contractor for an opinion. It’s also a good idea to interview a few different people before you make a decision. Some of the most popular modifications include installing lower countertops, widening doorways, relocating a laundry room, and pulling up carpet to install firmer flooring.
Don’t worry–there are still DIY options
Not every change that needs to be made in your home will need a professional to carry it out. There are some small things you can do on your own. Take a walk through your home to assess how easy it will be to move around in when you’re older, and think about safety needs, such as rubber mats in the bathtub and on the bathroom floor, a grab bar in the shower, removing throw rugs and other trip hazards, installing lighting on stairways and in closets, and labeling things in the kitchen for easy access.
You should also take a look around the outside of your home to get an idea of what might need to be updated, such as adding a railing to steps, installing a ramp, adding motion-sensor lighting to paths and near the front door, and having gates that lock securely.
Remember that modifying your home can be a big undertaking, but if you’re interested in aging in place, it’s necessary to make some changes that will ensure you stay safe and comfortable for as long as you live in your home.
About the Author:
Jim Vogel, co-founder of ElderAction, is passionate about promoting senior health and safety. He enjoys sharing valuable information with seniors and their caregivers.