Aging in Place in Southern Maryland? 7 Things to Consider

Kimberly Bean
Kimberly Bean
Published on January 10, 2017

Talking about older Southern Maryland adults can be a challenge. Unlike teenagers or toddlers, who pretty much all like the same things as others in their age groups, older adults aren’t monolithic. This group includes a broad range of ages, interests, and living situations.

Younger Baby Boomers bristle at being called seniors, especially if they’re on a hiking trip or combing the beaches at a tropical location. To these folks, “senior” applies to people who are slowing down and finding it harder to get around.

No matter what stage of aging you’re in, you may be like many older adults in the U.S.: Considering aging in place, either at your current Southern Maryland home or in a new place with a friendlier layout. What should you consider if you’re choosing what kind of home to age in? Start with this list.

Single-level living is easier

Perhaps the most obvious requirement for an older adult is a single-story house. Even younger Baby Boomers may find going up and down the stairs more painful on the knees than it used to be. Stairs are not only difficult or impossible to navigate for seniors, but there is a danger of slipping and falling.

Remember your future mobility

In most homes, hallways are 36 inches wide, which is too narrow for a person in a wheelchair. If you’re not planning to move, knocking out a wall to widen a hallway can be a major project. If you’re buying a new Southern Maryland house, look for hallways that are at least 42 inches wide – 48 inches wide is even better, according to the experts at the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI).

If you have trouble navigating changes in level, install a ramp. Avoid curbed ramps, say the experts at Drummond House Plans, because steering a walker, wheelchair, or scooter may be difficult on a curved surface.

Make the bathroom user-friendly

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 230,000 people are injured in the bathroom each year. The easiest way to make your bathroom senior friendly is to apply non-skid strips or a rubber mat to the shower floor and install grab bars in the tub.

For extra security, the National Aging in Place Council (NAIPC) recommends these modifications:

  • Remodel the shower so that it’s possible to roll into it in a wheelchair
  • Lower the bathroom sink
  • Install an elevated toilet.

Kitchen considerations

Kitchens can be hard to navigate if you’re in a wheelchair. Even if you’re not wheelchair-bound now, consider the possibility that you may be in the future. The specialists at NAIPC have these suggestions for making your kitchen more user friendly as you age:

  • Install cabinet hardware that is easy to grip.
  • Provide at least one 34-inch tall countertop with no obstructions beneath it. This allows the senior to sit while performing kitchen chores.
  • Elevate the dishwasher one foot off the ground.

Bedroom changes

Changes to your bedroom and closet can make it a safer place as you age. A walk-in closet with a doorway that is at least 36 inches wide will be easy for you to navigate. Lower shelves and clothing bars to make them easier to reach, and move the light switch inside the closet and within 36 to 40 inches from the floor.

Light the way to the bathroom so that you can see better for late-night trips to the bathroom. Popular options are nightlights or motion-sensor lighting. Some home improvement stores carry nightlights with a kick plate that can be turned on with the touch of a toe.

Lighting improvements

Good lighting is a safety essential if you’re planning to age in place. There’s a delicate balance, though, between adequate lighting and creating a glare.

The CDC recommends florescent bulbs, while the National Association of Remodeling Industry (NARI) suggests LED bulbs because they last longer than traditional or florescent bulbs. To avoid glare, NARI says you should install easy-access dimmer switches, pendant lights, and under-cabinet lighting.

Who renovates your existing home matters. Look for a contractor who holds the Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) designation.

If buying a new home is your plan, give me a call! I’ll be happy to help you find the perfect Southern Maryland home in which to age in place.

Waldorf MD Homes for Sale and Real Estate Services in Southern Maryland. You now have a search engine to help you with your Southern Maryland home search! And I’m ready to provide you with a custom home valuation if you’re considering selling your home. Let’s connect to discuss how I can help you. Contact Kimberly Bean at 301-440-1309

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