The majority of retirees want to stay in their homes and community where they have spent most of their lives. Their plan is to live independently in their homes, and in neighborhoods with friends and relatives close by.
If you really plan to stay in your own home, be realistic about what changes need to happen to make it fit your lifestyle and needs as you age. Remember that as people age they will experience a gradual decline in physical strength, flexibility and endurance. This natural aging process affects the practical ability to live independently.
Home modifications to help stay safely independent have been identified by the National Resource Center on Supportive Housing and Home Modifications (www.homemods.org).
- Vision loss: It takes longer for an older person’s eyes to change focus from an object close up to another at a distance. It takes longer to focus when moving from a light to dark area so hazards, such as steps, may be missed.
- Hand limitations: Arthritis is a common disability among older people. For people with dexterity-limiting conditions, operating controls, switches, gripping a doorknob and using tools can be a major problem.
- Limited range of arm motion: Consider the potential inability to reach high or low shelves.
- Mobility Impairment: Walking distances and going up and down stairs can become difficult and even hazardous.
What steps should you consider? If you plan to stay in your home, start with a list of changes you think may need to be made. Next, consult with experts, including remodelers, designers and other professions to figure out what your basic and “dream” changes will cost and how you will pay for it. Making changes to your home should give you peace of mind and the enjoyment of living independently in retirement.
 Rodney Harrell, a housing expert at AARP’s Public Policy Institute, “Is your community a good place to grow old? Plug your zip code into AARP tool to find out” by Fredrick Kunkle, The Washington Post, April 20, 2015.