Is your home retirement ready?Lifestyle
Previous generations of retirees were likely to downsize, head to warmer locales and spend their retirement kicking back. Today, more retirees are opting to stay in their current home, with 53 percent of retirees choosing to stay put. If you plan to spend your post-working years in your existing house, it may require updating the living space to ensure it is more retirement ready and can meet your needs if your physical abilities change.
Use this quick checklist to ensure your home will be an easy place to age. You won't need to dive into all of these updates right away, but it's smart to know what you'll want to change so that you can make a priority list and budget.
To be able to move around your home comfortably and make your home more wheelchair friendly, you may need to widen doorways: 32 inches with a straight-in approach is recommended; 36 inches if any turns are involved. Any steps leading into the house should have riser heights between 6 and 7.5 inches. Ideally at least one entryway should not have steps.
One out of four older adults will fall each year in the United States, oftentimes resulting in an injury. Since falls can be life changing for older adults, it's important floors are level and smooth to prevent accidents. You may also want to consider installing carpet or slip-resistant vinyl and ramps in areas where they are needed. Be sure to also remove scatter rugs and secure lamp cords and other electronic cords that can pose a tripping hazard.
If your home has more than one level, you may consider adding reflective, nonskid tape to stair treads. Install handrails on both sides of staircases, extending the handrails before and after the landings.
Another issue that contributes to falls is a lack of good lighting. Bright, overhead lighting is best. Having three-way switches in different parts of a room and at opposite ends of hallways and stairs means lighting is always readily available. If you can't retrofit the switches, consider using automatic night-lights in hallways and on stairs to make things safer.
Bathrooms and kitchen
Not only are you looking for trip or fire hazards, but also little things that can make daily tasks a bit easier. Changing kitchen cabinet hardware to larger, easier-to-open options or installing grab bars in the bathroom is relatively easy and usually inexpensive.
Your home is an important part of your retirement. Being proactive and taking steps now can help ensure your space is ready to go as your needs, and potentially your health, change. Take time to assess your home by anticipating the updates you want and need, determine a timeline and most important, create a budget that helps you stay financially responsible.
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