March 01, 2021

Aging in place

Make your home a healthy haven

Like most people, you probably would prefer to stay in your home as you age, rather than move into assisted living or a nursing home. A 2018 survey by AARP found that about 80% of people over age 50 want to age where they live rather than move.

However, U.S. Census Bureau figures show that, while most retirees do age in place, only about 10% of their homes meet minimum requirements for elderly living: a step-free entryway, a bedroom and full bathroom on the first floor, and at least one bathroom accessibility feature, such as a shower chair or grab bar.

Fortunately, there's a growing array of options for maintaining independence.

Whole industries have evolved to give older adults additional choices in their housing while supporting their desire to maintain independence. Builders are moving more toward "universal design" — home layouts that meet the safety and comfort needs of people in all stages of life, taking into account declines in mobility, dexterity and even cognitive functioning that can come with age.

Staying in your home is a personal decision that you should discuss in depth with your loved ones, your health care team, and an occupational or physical therapist who can assess your home's long-term livability as you — and those around you — age. In the graphics on these pages, see common modifications that improve your ability to age in place safely and comfortably.

Entryway

Entryway

  1. Ramps, not stairs — To prevent falls, you should be able...