Planning for seniors

Every day, roughly 10,000 baby boomers turn 65, which is a common age for retirement. But while many are ready to depart the workforce, relatively few ever want to leave their home.

A MetLife survey of the oldest members of this generation – those born in 1946 – found that 82 percent don't have plans to move out of their current home. However, the AARP noted many older adults develop chronic illnesses and physical changes that can make living at home a challenge.

Whether you're a boomer or a younger adult, the following small fixes and bigger renovations can help you enjoy your home for decades to come, even if your health or your mobility changes.

Throughout your home, modifications can improve safety
Seniors can handle some of these improvements on their own. For bigger changes, you may want to call in renovation experts who have special training in senior issues.

Make your bathroom safer
The AARP urged older adults to address needed bathroom fixes. These rooms – with their often-slippery surfaces and hard fixtures – cause a lot of injuries to people of all ages, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Consider wide doorways that can accommodate a walker (even if you don't have one now). Also, a shower with a bench and an entryway that's flat on the floor can help those with limited mobility. Many seniors choose to install grab bars in the shower and near the toilet as well.

Make your kitchen more accessible
Ensure that your kitchen is equipped with low countertops and other workspaces so you can manage tasks while seated, the National Aging in Place Council recommended. Consider installing pull-out racks in your pantry so you can reach items more conveniently.

Check out your whole home
Be sure you have ample lighting around your home, with plenty of easy-to-access light switches, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors suggested. Avoid stretching electrical cords across areas where you walk. In places where the floor changes in height, install flooring of different color and texture on the different levels to mark the change.

In addition, use lever handles on your doors and faucets, which may be easier to use than knobs if you develop trouble with your hands.

As you're protecting yourself with these alterations, don't forget the security that homeowners insurance provides. Some insurance providers offer discounts for making certain renovations and upgrades, going a period of time without claims or simply being a senior.

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