If you think about your retirement and future and see yourself enjoying your golden years in the comfort of your own home, you are not alone. According to the AARP, 87 percent of adults age 65 and older want to stay in their current home and community as they age. However, we cannot deny that aging has a significant effect on our bodies. We lose muscle mass, our bones become more susceptible to fractures, our equilibrium is thrown off, and our neurotransmitters deteriorate, slowing down reflexes and reaction time. Because of this, it’s important to make accessibility modifications around the home to protect yourself and ensure that you can safely age in place. In fact, it’s important to start working with a contractor as soon as possible so you can have safety features and renovations completed before you really need them.

The Magic of Ramps

Even if you live in a one-story home, chances are you have steps on your property. While you can probably hustle up and down these steps with no problem today, as you age, these elevations can become quite cumbersome to navigate. Installing safety ramps over steps isn’t just for people who need a wheelchair or walker. Ramps can make it easier for a senior-age person to get around their own home without risking a tumble down the stairs. When picking a ramp, be sure to look for a stable version with non-slip surface and handrails.

Beware the Bathroom

Sure, the kitchen boasts exciting features like fire and knives, but the bathroom takes the gold when it comes to the most dangerous room in the house. The biggest threat to a senior’s health and independence is a fall, with 2.5 million older people admitted emergency rooms every year due to one. High humidity and slippery surfaces create the perfect environment for slipping, so it’s important to do what you can to prevent these accidents.

– Consider tearing up your current flooring in the bathroom and replace it with a slip-resistant surface.

– A shower with a bench for sitting and a retractable nozzle is a safer option for bathing than a bathtub.

– Install a grab bar next to toilets to make getting up and down easier and safer.

Downsizing for Safety

If your home is quite large with tons of steps and other hazards, the costs of renovations for aging in place may not be worth it. For people living in large houses, a smarter and more cost-efficient option may be downsizing to something more manageable. Not only can you focus on finding a place that is optimized for safety, you can use downsizing as an opportunity to find a place that is closer to your loved ones.

The benefits of downsizing to a smaller home do not end there. If you own your home or have most of it paid off, selling your property can provide enough money to cover the costs of a new house with a possible surplus. That surplus can help pay off debts, fund your retirement dreams, or get tucked away for a rainy day. For an idea of what it might cost to buy a new home, check listings in your area. Look into different neighborhoods to determine if you can save money by purchasing a home just a few miles away. For instance, while the listing price for a home in the Chicago-area could be as high as $450,000, the average listing price is about $297,000 depending on what area of Chicagoland you are looking to buy in.

People who want to age in place should begin accessibility renovations before their senior years set it. Even if you don’t need a wheelchair or walker, installing safety ramps over stairs can help prevent falls. The bathroom is the most dangerous room in the house, but details like a safety shower and non-slip floors can provide protection. While modifications are great for some, it might be worthwhile to consider selling your current home and downsizing to something smaller. Downsizing isn’t just safer, it can also provide a bit of surplus cash that can fund your retirement.