Can Home Modifications for Retirement Help You Stay Young at Heart?

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Written by Elizabeth PTHome Safety

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Staying young at heart can sometimes be difficult, but there are a few things anyone can do. You should get social often, stay active, and exercise your body. Occasionally meeting new people and learning new skills is also good advice. To take part most effectively, however, you’ll need to leave your home. 

Exercise is a great way for this older man and woman to stay young at heart.

The big problem with homes during retirement

But what if physically getting in and out of your home poses a serious challenge? Most homes are one-size-fits-all, and many aren’t even one-size-fits-most. This does not work, especially for older adults whose home needs are drastically different than a young family with children. For many seniors, climbing stairs becomes difficult, either temporarily or permanently, due to the effects of aging, injury, or illness. 

 

Most homes, such as this two-story white home are not retirement-ready making it difficult to stay young at heart.

Now imagine a home that removes barriers often problematic for older adults. Obstacles, such as steps, affect the ability to participate in these activities to remain young at heart. But a little-known retirement strategy can solve these issues while providing many additional benefits for folks in their golden years. Read on to see why having a home optimized for you and your independence, safety and well-being may be the best way to stay young at heart.

Inconvenient home features, such as steps at the entrance or within the home, limit the ability to come and go with ease. If your arthritic knee throbs every time you climb steps, or you’re fearful that your knee may buckle, causing a fall, you’ll lose the desire to ascend and descend steps. Your willingness to go out into the world will also be affected, making it more challenging to do those activities that will help keep you young at heart. 

And it could result in actually feeling older and not younger.

Creating youthful habits

When you remove all barriers to performing an activity, like when you have an accessible ramp instead of stairs, you’re more likely to do the activity. It’ll be more manageable, and if the behavior becomes second nature, it’s more likely to create a lasting habit. 

On the other hand, making activities of daily living more difficult will likely result in a general reduction of overall activity level. Humans are creatures of habit, so once you begin restricting going out and about, it’s a cycle that will likely repeat. The less you go out, the less you will be motivated to do so in the future. 

This inviting front porch has steps to the front door which may decrease senior safety at home making it difficult to stay young at heart.

Less activity often leads to inactivity, and sadly the spiral frequently continues downward from there, especially in older adults. This is a recipe for disaster for staying young at heart and maintaining physical and mental health.

Home optimization to stay young at heart

Thankfully, there are ways to make getting into and out of your home more manageable, including many stair modifications and alternatives. Unfortunately, difficulty with stairs becomes more prevalent with age. It’s likely that steps will be an issue at some point and can be not only challenging but also dangerous and uncomfortable. You’ll be glad you addressed the issue before it became a more significant problem. 

One of the six essential home features needed for an age-proofed and future-ready home is an accessible entrance. Ideally, every home has at least one entrance without any steps. Since 90% of homes lack senior-friendly features, most homes do not have a step-free entry.

Yet many older adults want to age in place or live at home for as long as possible as they get older. The ability to enter and exit their home easily is critical for success. 

Age in place home design with a no step entrance help seniors stay young at heart.

Solution for an inaccessible home

So what’s the best solution?

Set up your home environment to make life easy. Remove the barriers, beginning with entrance steps, so you can get out into the community, be more active and independent and pursue your retirement dreams. A convenient, comfortable, accessible, efficient, and safe home supports a thriving retirement life, reduces stress and the possibility of injuries, and ultimately saves money, often a lot of it.

How much younger would you feel if your home wasn’t a constant reminder of your aging body and advancing years?

Home modifications for stress reduction

A German study published by the American Psychological Association found that thinking of yourself as younger can reduce functional health decline. This youthful mindset can also reduce the stress that accelerates biological aging. 

Having less stress can also contribute to being young at heart. Stress is detrimental to physical and psychological health, and studies find that it impacts almost everything in our bodies. 

A significant source of stress for many older adults is worrying about the possibility of having to leave their home and move to an assisted living facility or nursing home. Another stressor concerns how to afford to live in a retirement facility and potentially outlive their money.

The reality is that seniors want to remain at home for as long as possible. That’s why their homes need to be prepared, and accessibility needs to be improved. Living at home for additional years, if not forever, will save a substantial amount of money and improve their quality of life. It also improves confidence and reduces uncertainty for the future. This can further minimize life stress and maximize feeling younger at heart during the retirement years. 

This dancing older couple is happy because they have home modifications that help them be young at heart.

More benefits of a retirement-ready home

A well-planned, aging-friendly home will make you feel younger, decrease stress and give you more confidence. A future-ready home does this by effectively helping to navigate expected and unexpected life events, providing an environment that supports rather than inhibits independence and freedom at home. 

Your retirement house acts as your home base and can be the trusty foundation for whatever life you imagine. It can be your most extraordinary support as you age, but it can also be your worst nightmare. Set up your home in a way that will help you and your loved ones when challenges inevitably arise later in life. This will maximize your retirement quality of life and allow you to continue living in your home.

It’s unlikely that your home, as it is now, will give you the support you need to pursue your retirement dreams and thrive throughout your golden years. Whether your home is your ally or your foe is up to you. Creating a home environment with features that support aging well is the best-kept secret of retirement planning. Unfortunately, most people realize it when it’s too late. 

Next step to stay young at heart

If you’re ready to start exploring your retirement-ready home strategy to keep you young at heart, take this fun Golden Girls-inspired quiz! Your future self will most definitely thank you. 

About the Author

As a home health Physical Therapist for over 20 years, I help clients solve home dilemmas so they can live their best life.

I'm here to use that same problem-solving expertise and training as a Certified Aging in Place Specialist to help you create an optimized home that's forward-thinking and future-ready to support you and your loved ones well for a lifetime.

Ready to discover your Golden Girl strategy for a retirement-ready home?