When you need more space, it often makes sense to move to a new home. In fact, 32 million people throughout the U.S. did just that in 2018. But embracing a new environment isn’t the solution to every problem. And as we grow older, many of us want to avoid that scenario entirely.
To that end, 90% of seniors say they want to stay in their homes as they age. This is becoming a more popular option — and with increased demand for aging in place, older Americans now have options for making their homes more comfortable, convenient, and safe as their needs evolve.
But with 58% of homeowners saying they plan to spend money on home improvements this year, there’s another consideration that many want to keep in mind. As more Americans make the move to embrace greener practices, eco-conscious adjustments are becoming more prevalent in many homes — including those of seniors planning to age in place. Here are just a few tips that will allow you to address all of your needs as you age while doing your part to protect the planet.
Opt For Energy and Water Conservation
As we age, it’s important to keep an eye on our expenditures. Since you might find yourself on a stricter budget as you move into retirement, you’ll want to do everything you can to keep your monthly costs as low as possible. One way to do that — while going green at the same time — is to take steps to conserve both energy and water usage. Whether that means upgrading your kitchen appliances to Energy Star models while you add safety and accessibility features or you install low-flow toilets and showerheads while you add grab bars to the bathroom, you’ll end up saving money and precious resources. Even something small like using LED lightbulbs in existing fixtures can make a big difference. Not only do these bulbs last longer and waste less energy, but they actually produce a brighter light — and that can help to prevent slips and falls at home. When it comes time to make aging-in-place improvements, remember to factor in energy-efficient and water-saving features.
Improve Indoor Air Quality
Having proper ventilation and superior indoor air quality is important for residents of any age, but seniors are especially vulnerable to the effects of indoor air pollution. Older people who have conditions like asthma, chronic immune diseases, or lung diseases may suffer the most in these situations. It’s important to prevent and address mold, volatile organic compounds, and other irritants by taking steps to improve indoor air quality. This may involve discontinuing the use of harsh cleaning products, installing HEPA air filters, and ensuring your HVAC systems are running as efficiently as possible. Remember that by improving the air quality in your home, you’ll likely improve the state of the world, as well.
Choose Low-Maintenance Landscaping
For many seniors, exterior property maintenance can be one of the main barriers to aging in place. In senior living communities, many of these tasks are taken care of for you — but when you remain at home, you’ll either have to do it yourself or hire a service to ensure your property remains in excellent shape and that your safety won’t be compromised by your surroundings. Still, you won’t want to remove healthy trees and plants just for the sake of convenience, as this won’t be beneficial to the eco-system. Instead, consider using native plants that will support local wildlife but that won’t require a lot of extra effort to maintain. Rain gardens can be constructed to make sue of natural rainwater while improving the look of a property. As a side note, make sure not to use harmful chemicals for gardening and landscaping. The ultimate goal should be a yard that requires minimal upkeep but that can still provide a tranquil environment for both you and local animal life.
Preparing to age in place isn’t the easiest task — and adding the extra wrinkle of environmental responsibility can feel like a massive challenge. But in the end, many green principles are actually just common sense. What’s more, they’ll often improve your own health while keeping the health of the earth at the forefront.