The interior environment is essential for increased independence. However, the exterior environment is also just as important. The following are suggestions on ways to modify the environment.
Lighting is critical to make it easier to navigate walkways and reduce falls. All entrances and exits should have lights installed by or near the doors. Lights with sensors that turn on automatically at night or by movement are the best for safety and convenience. Lighting also provides security and decreases the risk of injuries in your home. When installing lights, make sure they are placed to shine downward to reduce shadows and glares. Frosted lightbulbs rather than clear bulbs can also reduce glare (Aging in Place, 2021). Choose lights with a color rendering index of at least 80 allows for the most accurate color perception. Focused lighting should be included above the lockset for an individual to get into and out of the house appropriately (National Association of Home Builders, 2017).
If your entrance has steps, they should be replaced with a ramp or a lift. A ramp is easier to walk on and will benefit individuals who have difficulty going up the steps or cannot use the steps due to mobility limitations. If you install a ramp, make sure there is at least a 60-inch wide landing near the door's entrance or appropriate landings throughout. A lift is beneficial for individuals who do not want a ramp but still require modifications to access the home. Having a doorbell that is color contrasted and illuminated allows for a more effortless ability to locate and see the doorbell (National Association of Home Builders, 2017). A bench or shelf next to the entry door is beneficial for individuals who would like to sit and rest before going into the home or need to set packages down while opening the door.
Replace materials with items that are low maintenance, such as brick or vinyl. Resin-based materials are also a good choice since they do not require painting or sealing (Aging in Place, 2021). If you want something that is low maintenance and will last for many years to come, the extra cost may be worth it.
If you like gardening, consider having raised flower beds that will allow you to complete gardening tasks while standing or sitting instead of kneeling on the ground. An automatic sprinkler system is also beneficial and will reduce the need to water your plants and grass. Be mindful of the types of plants you purchase for your yard. Some plants require trimming and grow extensively in size. Dwarf plants are smaller in size when they mature, making it easier for the plants to be cared for (Aging in Place, 2021).
Aging in Place. (2021). Creative exterior modifications effectively aging in place. Retrieved from https://aginginplace.org/creative-exterior-modifications-for-effectively-aging-in- place/
National Association of Home Builders. (2017). Details and Solutions for Livable Homes and Aging In Place (CAPS III). Washington, D.C.: NAHB.