Six ways to adapt your home as your needs change
As our population continues to get older, aging at home becomes more and more important. Scientists predict that by 2050, the number of Americans ages 65 and older will reach 88.5 million. That’s more than double the 2010 count.
Whether you already live here full-time or are considering retiring here, Santa Barbara is a great place to age at home. The Santa Barbara Independent recently published a guide to making your golden years shine in Santa Barbara. The guide includes info on active aging opportunities, how seniors can avoid phone scams, proper planning for retirement, volunteer opportunities with family service agencies, nutrition designed for longevity, info on Lift’s Dial a Ride for Santa Barbara Seniors and much more.
No matter where you live, your home may need to be adapted to accommodate your needs as you age. Think safety, accessibility, and independence. The best way to accommodate your new needs is to start the process early and plan ahead. That way, the process can be done gradually. Here are the 6 ways to start adapting your Santa Barbara home so you can age at home:
- Add Grab Bars for Safety
Falls can be a major problem for seniors. By installing grab bars, you can significantly decrease injuries that result from a nasty fall. Install them in key places around your home. You’ll want to add grab bars in rooms where the floor might get wet, like near showers or toilets, and where the floor transitions to a different level, like stairs and room thresholds. Always use a professional contractor to install your grab bars to ensure they’re reinforced properly. Otherwise, the bar can easily be pulled from the wall and cause injury.
- Nix the Steps in Your Entry
Don’t worry. Changing the access to the main level of your home to a ramp instead of stairs won’t alter your curb appeal, as long as you plan ahead. Wood or concrete ramps will provide the necessary gradual incline to the front door for those who need it. A contractor can design the perfect ramp that matches the aesthetic of your home. That way, your home will be accessible to wheelchairs, walkers and for anyone who can’t use stairs.
- Widen Doorways
Walkers and wheelchairs require large door access. That means you’ll need to increase the width of your doorways. This, too, is a job for your contractor. You’ll want them to increase the normal 24″ or 32″ doorway to 36” to allow easy access for all.
- Creating an Open Floorplan is a Must
Everyone needs room to maneuver around their home. Seniors just need more A wheelchair, for example, requires a square five feet to move about freely. That’s why experts suggest seniors live in a home with an open floor plan. This easy fix can be done by a contractor who will remove full and pony walls to create cased openings. You’ll want to rearrange your furniture and appliances, too, ensuring wide and clear paths throughout. Seniors will also need to restrict living to a single floor, so make sure your home has a kitchen, a bathroom and a bedroom on the main level. If not, you can hire a contractor to add whatever’s missing. Hint: add a laundry room on the main level, too. That one renovation might even increase the value of your home, along with the other 7 renovations I discussed in this previous blog.
- Remove All Thresholds
Prevent potential injuries by removing floor thresholds between rooms. This problem is easily eliminated when you install ramps at every threshold, so seniors can move easily throughout the main level of the home.
- Shower Conversion
One of the most dangerous rooms for seniors is the bathroom because slippery floors create major hazards. Besides adding grab bars and using bath mats that grip the floor, you also have to remove any miscellaneous tripping hazards. One popular option is converting a bathtub into a shower without a threshold, which also allows ease of access for seniors who have to use wheelchairs.
Active Aging for Santa Barbara Seniors
There’s proof that staying active is key to aging gracefully. It improves cognitive functioning, physical strength and balance; all while fostering rich social interaction. Santa Barbara has some excellent options for seniors who want to stay active and healthy. The Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation Department offers several senior-focused programs.
According to Parks & Rec’s senior recreation supervisor, Jason Bryan, the many senior classes and activities at the recreation centers in town include ballroom dancing, lawn bowling, pickleball, and a special stretch-and-tone class.
“Santa Barbara is unique in that we have two lawn bowling clubs,” Bryan says. “If you were overseas in New Zealand or England, lawn bowling is kind of like golf; it’s more mainstream.”
Seniors who need a little more attention than lawn bowling have endless exercise choices in Santa Barbara. Ageless Fitness in Goleta offers one-on-one or small group exercise classes with a trained exercise physiologist.
Trainer Julie Pollard creates personalized exercise schedules for seniors. “I take a really individualized approach when working with seniors,” she says. “Often they have different concerns, different needs, and different life-experiences with physical activity and health.”
The workout space at Ageless Fitness is small, but this specialized gym is clean and inviting. “I’ve noticed a lot of people feel uncomfortable in a typical gym setting. They feel kind of overwhelmed by having a lot of machinery or a lot of equipment or a lot of people,” Pollard says. “So, we strive to have our place feel like a home.”
If you’d rather move instead of reconfiguring your current home for aging, check out my comprehensive website. I have many listings in Montecito, Hope Ranch or any of Santa Barbara’s upscale communities that would be perfect for senior living. Just give me a call at +1.805.886.9378 or email me at Cristal@montecito-estate.com. If you’re looking to sell at the same time, I have access to high-net-worth luxury buyers looking to own a piece of the coveted Santa Barbara lifestyle. Let me take care of finding you the perfect home and selling your existing home at the same time.