Age 55 and Older? Here's How to Live Independently While Staying Healthy

Home safety is so important for seniors; not only does it ensure that there is no potential for accidents and injuries, but it also allows an older individual to remain independent and live in their own homes for as long as possible. There are many steps you can take to age in place without stress; some involve making changes to your home, while other changes will need to be made to your lifestyle. Keeping your physical and mental health in check is the ultimate goal, so look for activities that will help you feel good and stay in shape.

Because falls are one of the most common causes of injury for seniors, it’s crucial to make sure your home is clutter-free and that you’re able to navigate it safely. Houses with stairs are often overwhelming for older adults, especially if there are mobility issues at play; in cases like this. many people choose to downsize and move into a smaller place. This may be an option for you, but it does come with a lot of considerations, so planning well is important.

Pay Attention to These 4 Home Safety Tips

Cleaning Up

Many seniors struggle with completing daily chores, especially if the home is large and has many rooms to take care of on a regular basis. If cleaning the house is too much, consider hiring a professional service to come in and handle things. Keeping each area of your home clean and decluttered is an important part of fall prevention, and if a pro is cleaning for you, that’s one chore you can cross off your list so you can focus on other things — just keep in mind that the average cost of cleaning services can vary depending on where you live.  

Making Some Lifestyle Changes

There are many types of lifestyle changes you can make that will help you stay safe and healthy. For instance, exercising every day is a great one; look for workouts that are adaptable to your needs, especially if you have mobility issues. Balance exercises are perfect and can be done with a chair or other stable object. You can also change your diet to reflect your needs, or you might consider investing in a service animal if you are living with a disability. These animals can help with everything from mobility to completing certain tasks, and they are wonderful, compassionate companions who can also boost your mental health.

Making Some Modifications

If your home is a good one in which to age in place but needs a little work, consider making some changes that will help you stay safe. You might add a ramp over the front steps outside, install safety bars in the shower and near the toilet, or replace knobs on cabinets and doors with easy-to-grasp handles. These small changes won’t cost much — safety bars, for example, start at around $20 at Lowe’s, though you might have to hire a contractor to install them —  but they will allow you to remain independent and safe as you age in place. For bigger modifications that require renovations, however, you can look for grants available specifically to seniors.

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Considering Downsizing

Downsizing to a smaller home is a big job, and it takes a lot of careful planning. If your current home is too big for you to maintain or contains many stairs that will be difficult to navigate as you get older, it might be time to think about moving. Talk to your partner or family members about the advantages of downsizing, and ask for their help when it comes time to go through belongings and pack up. Look for a home that is one level and has benefits such as a walk-in shower or widened doorways that will be able to accommodate mobility equipment.

Home safety is an essential part of growing older, and it’s imperative that you take steps to keep yourself healthy while also preventing accidents. By joining the two actions, you’ll be able to ensure your post-retirement years are exactly what you want them to be.

June Duncan is the co-creator of Rise Up for Caregivers, which offers support for family members and friends who have taken on the responsibility of caring for their loved ones. She is the author of the upcoming book, The Complete Guide to Caregiving: A Daily Companion for New Senior Caregivers.

Editor's Note

Often people don’t think about how their life will change as they get older. People start to downsize even prior to retiring. Some people look at the possibility of moving elsewhere because of weather or in an attempt to be closer to family.

Hopefully, you have already saved money in your 401(k) and IRA so you will have the financial resources to enjoy your future retirement. However, is your family and your finances prepared for the financial costs and burdens of aging?

As we get older, we face an increased risk of needing help with normal activities of daily living. Otherwise known as “ADLs”, most of us will need some help over time. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says seven out of ten people, once they reach age 65, will need some type of long-term care service and support. This care is expensive and will either drain your assets and adversely impact your income and lifestyle or place stress and pressure on your family, usually a daughter or daughter-in-law.

Plan in advance for longevity with affordable Long-Term Care Insurance. Start your research before you retire. It is usually best in your 40s or 50s when you still enjoy better health and premiums are very affordable. There are several types of plans including asset-based plans which include life insurance along with long-term care coverage. Always seek help from a qualified Long-Term Care Insurance specialist. They will help you design an appropriate plan after considering your age, health, and other family concerns and matching that with the best insurance company. Premiums can vary as much as 200% or more for the exact same coverage.

Start your research by finding the current and future costs of care services in your state, along with the availability of tax incentives and partnership program policies which provide dollar-for-dollar asset protection. Find your state on the LTC News Map by clicking here. You can find a Long-Term Care specialist by clicking here.

For many American families, Long-Term Care Insurance has been the difference between a crisis and peace-of-mind. In 2018, just the major insurance companies paid over $10.3 Billion in benefits. That is a lot of asset protection and a lot of peace-of-mind.

Planning for the next stage of life can be unsettling for some but once you have a solid plan in place you can enjoy life and smell the roses.

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