The majority of Americans have spent decades turning their houses into homes—places of comfort, rest, and of course, wonderful memories. It is no surprise that so many are reluctant to abandon the familiar and the comfortable—the physical place that is the extension of their identity.
As many of us age and develop mobility challenges, we struggle with the decision to either move to a new location that is accommodating to our needs or remain in the familiar and comfortable dwelling that we have made our home. Fortunately, new technologies are available to help seniors, boomers, and others with accessibility needs have the best of both worlds. Simple technologies, like lighting, motion detectors, call pendants, and cameras, can provide comfort and confidence in the home, and tethering the home devices together with Google or Alexa can facilitate caregiving responsibilities for caregivers.
Aging in place has never been this accommodating. Seniors now have the ability to command and control things with just their voice. Smart homes can be programmed to behave a certain way depending on various factors to create custom scenes based on rule-based actions. Lights turn on and off without any interaction. Heating and cooling zones regulate themselves based on zone activity. Fully-loaded smart homes can save consumers up to 35% on energy bills.
Smart home technology has made caregiving by loved ones or professionals more seamless with coded door access control, automated lighting, voice command and control, fall notification and alerting, activity alerting, video surveillance, and other innovations.
Homes can be made safer and more accessible with simple, low-tech upgrades, like adding grab bars, handrails, and railings. Other safety options include rearranging furniture, adding or upgrading lighting, and eliminating tripping hazards. “People don’t realize how dangerous bathrooms can be, with water and soap and maneuvering around obstacles in tight spaces. It is a recipe for disaster,” says Bruce Montgomery, RN, owner of Grab Bar Pros, a company dedicated to installing home grab bars, handrails, and other safety products.
Another obstacle that can reduce one’s quality of life by confining them to one-floor living or force them to move is the staircase. “Over my career of working with seniors and their families, doing the stairs can cause a lot of anxiety for the loved one as well as the caregiver,” says Bob Pretopapa, owner and founder of Power Stair Lifts. “Whether they need to do laundry in the basement or access the second floor bathroom, we have seen stair lifts transform people’s lives and give them the confidence to remain safely in their home,” explains Pretopapa.
Stair lift options are plentiful, and the cost of a new straight stair lift is less than the cost of moving and a fraction of the cost of an institutional setting. Stair lifts are also available for stairs with landings and townhouses with multiple staircases that contain curves. There are also options for renting a stair lift for short-term cases, as well as used stair lift options.
While many studies have been done that say that a kitchen or bathroom renovation provides the best return-on-investment for homeowners, the best home investment for seniors can be found in any number of mobility products. They can be much less expensive and burdensome than a trip to the hospital, a stay in rehab, the anxiety of decreased mobility, or being forced to move. Most certainly, mobility-assistance products provide peace-of-mind for loved ones that they otherwise would not have, and that itself is priceless.
If you are considering an investment in your home accessibility and safety, please reach out to the experts listed in our magazine. If you need a copy of the Lifestyles over 50 2022 Annual Directory, call us at 855-233-7034 or email [email protected].