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How to age in place

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Susan Brunstrum explains how, with just a few small design changes, you can future-proof your home for yourself

This low bathtub makes getting in and out easy

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I’m not a senior citizen – yet – but I have already told my kids that it will take dynamite to get me out of my high-rise condo! I’m definitely the independent type, and I’m going to age - gracefully I hope - in my home.

Senior citizens make up the country’s fastest-growing population, and most of them want the comfort and familiarity of their own home.

In fact, ageing in place is directly linked to better health and happiness for seniors, especially if they aren’t isolated. How can you stay safe while living at home? Just a few small design changes can make a big difference.

Throughout the house:

  • Install indirect lighting in areas where there are shadows or glare to prevent trip hazards
  • Choose low-pile rugs and avoid thick pads
  • Make sure all area rugs lay completely flat, including all corners and edges
  • Avoid buying furniture with sharp corners
  • Choose door levers over door knobs
  • Select furniture, including a bed, which is low enough so your feet can touch the floor when sitting, but not so low that it is difficult to get up
  • Provide plenty of low storage to eliminate the need for step stools, but not too low that bending over is required
  • Make sure there are bannisters at every stairway, inside and out

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In the bathroom

  • Install grab bars in bathing areas
  • Choose a no-threshold shower and/or tub, both with nonslip surfaces
  • Add a seat to the shower
  • Install a raised toilet seat

First published date: 04 December 2017

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