(The following is a guest post by Jim Vogel a local advocate for seniors)
Essential Aging-in-Place Features Seniors Should Look for in a New Home
Many seniors end up moving before or during retirement. Whether they are looking for less maintenance or a change of scenery, relocating to a different home can be beneficial for seniors in several ways. If you are a senior who is thinking about downsizing and moving to a new home, you can search for these key features to ensure that home is safe for your golden years.
Help with Financing
Just because you’re a senior enjoying the retirement life doesn’t mean you can’t qualify for a home loan. In fact, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act strictly forbids lenders from discriminating against age. In other words, as long as you qualify for a mortgage loan, seniors have just as much of a chance of getting one as a person half their age. Also, take advantage of anything that can help you secure a good loan. For example, veterans should look into VA loans, as VA home loan rates tend to be much lower than other options.
If you decide to skip assisted living and buy a new home, you may want to avoid homes with stairs. That’s because stairs can be difficult to navigate as you get older, and having to use them to get into or around your new home could increase your risk for a serious fall. Now if you find a perfect home that does include stairs, you can make modifications to help make them safer, such as installing more lighting, adding tactile carpet, or incorporating handrails.
Soft or Carpeted Floors
Stone, tile, and concrete are all popular materials for flooring these days, but if you are planning on aging in place in your new home, you may want to choose floors with more friction. Carpet is going to be your best bet for preventing falls and serious injuries if you do experience a fall. If you don’t love carpet or are concerned about allergies, you can also look for homes with cork, linoleum, or hardwood floors.
Even and Ample Lighting
Lighting can be important for seniors who are looking to age in place, so you should also try to assess the amount of lighting in the homes you view. You may be thinking that natural light is best for reducing your fall risk, but you need to consider whether windows and sunlight produce any glare. Looking for homes with plenty of lighting fixtures and outlets for night lights may be a better option for preventing falls.
Walk-In Showers or Tubs
You may have noticed that many aging-in-place home features are aimed at preventing senior falls. That’s mainly because falls are such a major health risk for older adults and continue to be a leading cause of life-changing injury and death among retirees. Since most falls occur on slick or slippery surfaces, it’s crucial that you pay attention to any potentially hazardous rooms in your new home, especially the bathroom. While you can always install grab bars for added safety, you may also want to look for a home with a walk-in shower instead of a tub.
Smart Home Features
Making sure your new home includes features that prevent falls is important. Since you will be spending your retirement years in this home, however, you should also look for a few features that will make your life easier and more enjoyable. Smart home features can do just that during your golden years, with video doorbells that help secure your home and automated thermostats that help keep it cozy and save you money. If you live far away from loved ones, tech can also help keep you connected. You can also add these gadgets to your new home after you move and get settled.
Your retirement years are some of the prime years of your life. So make sure your new home has all the features and design elements you need to make the most of your time and keep the years ahead truly golden.
Photo Credit: Rawpixel