Aging in place can be a wonderful choice for retirement. You keep all the comforts and familiarity of home while also adapting to your new life as a free senior. You can take the time to enjoy your garden, work on projects that were put off in the days of children and day-jobs, and you will still have a place to welcome grown children and new grandchildren when they come to visit.
Of course, there are also a few new considerations in how you arrange your home when aging in place. Seniors should put a little thought into the long-term comfort, safety, and convenience of their home, especially larger family homes or multi-story homes with steps that may become less welcoming over time.
The practical choice for many seniors aging in place is to do a little redecorating. Or, at the very least, a little rearranging of your current possessions to better accommodate your physical comforts of today. In honor of this great practice, we’ve put together a few pointers on how to rearrange your home for enjoyable aging and how a helpful team of movers can make this much easier for you.
Redesign a First-Floor-Only Living Space
The first step is to rearrange your furniture in a way that makes it easy for you to live in a smaller number of rooms on the first floor. Consider how trendy senior apartments are designed and how much more convenient it will be not to fully cross the house or climb the steps every time you want to put on a sweater or grab your shoes.
Reimagine the rooms of your home to turn your first floor into the ideal senior apartment. Move your bedroom downstairs if it was upstairs and rearrange the living room into a more open and welcoming space for older residents. Naturally, you will want a quick and easy walk to the kitchen, along with the back door and front door. Think of hotel rooms you’ve really enjoyed and how you can arrange your home to better suit easy retirement living.
Of course, you’ll have to move any displaced furniture somewhere else, which we’ll cover soon.
Prioritize Walkways and Hand-Holds
In your new design, one of the most important choices is to prioritize walkways. In fact, there are a few new tricks every senior should try. If you sometimes like a little extra support without installing handrails, arrange your couch to face away from the wall, with a 3-foot walkway behind it. You may notice more than a few visitors casually running their hand along the back of the couch as well, as it’s a handy technique.
Make sure there is always 2-3 feet of space for every walkway to ensure plenty of room to move around and, of course, keep your walkways clear of clutter or runner-rugs that tend to curl or ripple. If you like your runner rugs, consider a few strips of adhesive underneath to keep them firmly in place for traction and to prevent tripping hazards.
Pack Up and Organize Clutter for Safety
Clutter on the floor can be a serious danger when aging in place, even if your home has always been a warm and slightly disorganized place. Now is the time for hotel-like clean lines and clean floors wherever you can manage it.
In fact, one of the best things you can do is to pack up extra items that have been knocking around your house for years and get them safely into organized and labeled boxes. Many seniors keep clear/frosted plastic boxes of things they like to have but don’t need to be piled on shelves or under the coffee table anymore and you may realize that more than a few things could be tossed or donated with no impact to your life or important attached memories at all.
A packing service can happily help you organize and safely store keepsakes as well as packing up and removing boxes of things that accumulated without purpose. Now is the perfect time to optimize what you really want to keep, storing things for fond memories, preparing things for family members, or getting rid of things that no longer need to be in the house.
Clear and Re-Prioritize Your Pantry
Take a look at your kitchen. For many people, clutter builds up in the pantry over the years and it may have been some time since a child’s school food drive gave you an excuse to clear it out.
One highly underestimated part of aging in place is optimizing your cooking process. The easier it is to cook the healthy meals you enjoy, the better your nutrition, energy, and stand-up task efficiency will be.
Take a little time to go through your pantry and reorganize your entire system. Sort out the items that can go to your local food bank, set aside items you suddenly remember that you want to cook, and arrange your pantry for quick, enjoyable ingredient retrieval in the future.
Pack and Save Grown Children’s Possessions
As you’re rearranging the home for your own convenience, you may stop and wonder what to do about all the possessions grown children tend to leave behind. It may be past time to repurpose those bedrooms into guest rooms that will be great for your guests and for the now-grown style of your visiting children. But their childhood items are still precious and worth saving.
A courteous packing service can help you preserve and store these memory-packed possessions. Store them in accessible trunks downstairs if you like to go through the trophies and tests and dance costumes from time to time for memory’s sake. Or pack them into boxes and totes to send on to your grown children to share with their children in their new homes.
Turn the Upstairs Into Guest-Only Rooms
If you have upstairs rooms that are going unused, now is the time to redecorate and redesign for guest-only spaces. Even if you almost never go up there, your visiting children and younger guests certainly can. Set the upstairs up with a well-stocked linen closet and some well-appointed lovely guest rooms for visiting adults.
If you have grandchildren who visit regularly or over the summer, now is your chance to truly dedicate one or two rooms for their enjoyment, designed with just the right number of beds and in a style that you know your grandchildren will find welcoming.
Organize Your Garage and Storage Areas for Safe Navigation
Finally, don’t forget to address your storage areas. If boxes, tools, and bicycles have been accumulating in the garage for decades, your packing team can help you get everything truly squared away so that there is no risk of tumbling and the area is more easily cleaned and maintained.
Loose tools and toys can be packed into boxes, and boxes can be loaded onto raised shelves to make sure the ground stays clear and sweepable. Bicycles that are used often can be lined up on a rack and bicycles no longer in use can be donated or hung from the ceiling. Tools can be arranged into a functional workshop or packed up into toolkits and hung on the wall for an attractive yet out-of-the-way arrangement.
Not only will you get your garage, storage closets, and attic back into ship-shape, but you’ll have more room for visiting cars, garage sales, and grandchildren playing in the shady indoor-outdoor safety of your garage.
Aging in place isn’t just about retiring in your own home. It’s about making sure your home keeps up with your new lifestyle. You will want an arrangement that is welcoming to creaky knees and shorter walks, while visiting family will appreciate welcoming guest rooms and open spaces for the grandkids to play.
If you’re ready to rearrange your home to enjoyably age in place, Big Deahl’s Movers can help you with all the packing, organizing, and furniture moving your home update requires. Please contact us when you’re ready to get started and we will be proud to help you turn your home into the ideal retirement environment!