6 WAYS TO ADAPT YOUR HOME AS YOUR NEEDS CHANGE
Whether you already live here full-time or are considering retiring here, Santa Barbara is a great place to age at home. We even have our own Senior Fitness Ambassador, Santa Barbara athlete, and fitness instructor, Sally Saenger. The 66-year-old competitive surfer and a member of the PE department at Santa Barbara City College since 1982 was recently named a 2022 Senior Planet Sponsored Athlete from AARP.
There’s also the Center for Successful Aging, a local nonprofit dedicated to promoting the social, physical, emotional, and spiritual life of seniors and families in our Santa Barbara community through a variety of programs. The organization offers a quarterly newspaper geared towards seniors, providing insights on important aging issues, useful health and safety tips, activities coming up in our community, and more.
The Santa Barbara Independent recently published a guide to making your golden years shine in Santa Barbara. The guide includes info on active aging opportunities, including how seniors can avoid phone scams, proper planning for retirement, volunteer opportunities with family service agencies, nutrition designed for longevity, and info on Lift’s Dial a Ride for Santa Barbara Seniors.
Active Aging for Seniors at Home in Santa Barbara
There’s proof that staying active is key to aging gracefully. It improves cognitive functioning, physical strength, and balance, all while fostering rich social interaction. Santa Barbara has some excellent options for seniors who want to stay active and healthy. For example, the Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation Department offers several senior-focused programs. Senior classes and activities at recreation centers in town include ballroom dancing, lawn bowling, pickleball, and a special stretch-and-tone course.
Aging at Home
No matter where you live, your home may need to be adapted to accommodate your needs as you age. Think safety, accessibility, and independence. The best way to accommodate your new needs is to start the process early and plan ahead. That way, the process can be done gradually. Here are ways to begin adapting your Santa Barbara home so you can age at home:
- Add Grab Bars for Safety
Falls can be a significant problem for seniors. By installing grab bars, you can significantly decrease injuries that result from a nasty fall. Install them in key places around your home. For example, you'll want grab bars in rooms where the floor might get wet near showers or toilets and where the floor transitions to a different level, like stairs and room thresholds. Always use a professional contractor to install your grab bars to reinforce them properly. Otherwise, the bar can easily be pulled from the wall and cause injury.
- Nix the Steps in Your Entry
Don't worry. Changing the access to the main level of your home to a ramp instead of stairs won’t alter your curb appeal, as long as you plan ahead. Wood or concrete ramps will provide the necessary gradual incline to the front door for those who need it. A contractor can design the perfect ramp that matches the aesthetic of your home. That way, your home will be accessible to wheelchairs, walkers, and for anyone who can’t use stairs.
- Widen Doorways
Walkers and wheelchairs require large door access. That means you’ll need to increase the width of your doorways. This, too, is a job for your contractor. You’ll want them to increase the standard 24" or 32" doorway to 36” to allow easy access for all.
- Creating an Open Floor Plan is a Must
Everyone needs room to maneuver around their home. A wheelchair, for example, requires a square five feet to move about freely. That’s why experts suggest seniors live in a house with an open floor plan. This easy fix can be done by a contractor who will remove full and pony walls to create cased openings. Of course, you'll also want to rearrange your furniture and appliances, ensuring wide and clear paths throughout. Seniors will also need to restrict living to a single floor, so make sure your home has a kitchen, a bathroom, and a bedroom on the main level. If not, you can hire a contractor to add whatever’s missing. Hint: add a laundry room on the main level, too. That one renovation might even increase the value of your home.
- Remove All Thresholds
Prevent potential injuries by removing floor thresholds between rooms. This problem is easily eliminated when you install ramps at every entry so seniors can move easily throughout the home's main level.
- Shower Conversion
A dangerous room for seniors is the bathroom because slippery floors create significant hazards. So besides adding grab bars and using bath mats that grip the floor, you also have to remove any miscellaneous tripping hazards. One popular option is converting a bathtub into a shower without a threshold, which allows easy access for seniors who have to use wheelchairs.
Check out my comprehensive website if you'd rather move instead of reconfiguring your current home IN Santa Barbara for aging. I have many listings in Montecito, Hope Ranch, or any of Santa Barbara's upscale communities that would be perfect for senior living. Just call me at (805) 886-9378 or email me at Cristal@montecito-estate.com. If you’re looking to sell simultaneously, I have access to high-net-worth luxury buyers looking to own a piece of the coveted Santa Barbara lifestyle. Let me take care of finding you the perfect home and selling your existing home at the same time.