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Aging in Place with Grace

Article written by Susan Jones Pait.  Susan is the Manager of Relationship Development for SYNERGY HomeCare of Central Florida.

Today, people are living longer than ever before.  As our population ages as a whole, more and more senior adults and their loved ones have to make changes and adapt their lives to accommodate the ever decreasing ability to retain independence.  The good news, however, is that despite natural decline, there are more options available for independent living.  In fact, today people can stay at home for many years as they grow older and start needing help with everyday tasks.  This is called "aging in place"

Anticipating changing needs - For a person who has developed a chronic health condition, like diabetes or arthritis, aging in place means more than just domestic comfort.  The home must be safe and appropriate.  Home modifications may be required, such as a ramp or lift.  Reliable transportation must be accessible.

Plan ahead - It can be extremely challenging for an aging senior to stay in control of their future without a plan in place.  Therefore, it is recommended that seniors modify their homes to accommodate decreased mobility, dexterity, strength and stamina, even before they experience any of these symptoms.  And while preparations may come in many forms, such as financial stability, securing a good long term care insurance plan, or relying on family and friends, preparing is always a good practice.

10 Tips for Independence

1) Entryways - Try to make sure at least one point of entry has no stairs or stoops.

2) Doorways - Widen doorways to at least 36 inches for wheelchairs.

3) Security - Move peepholes down to eye level

4) Electrical Outlets - Move electrical outlets at 18 inches high, and light switches to 42 inches from the floor.

5) Safety - Get a personal emergency reponse system (PERS)

6) Door Handles - Try levered door handles.  Pressing down is easier than turning a knob if you have arthritis. 

7) Faucets - Install Lever Faucets with anti-scald valves and tempertaure-controlled tub and shower fixtures.

8) Support - Instal Grab Bars in the bathroom and wherever else you may need them.

9) Traffic Flow - Make home modifications that adjust funiture and counters to be wheelchair friendly and of solid construction.

10) Light Switches- Try rocker light switches. You can turn them on and off with the touch of an elbow if your hands are full.

Kelleigh Klein
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