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A Low-Maintenance House: Ideas to Safely Ease into Retirement

As you plan your retirement, think about how your lifestyle may change in the coming years. Do you anticipate remaining in your home or downsizing to a smaller space? Have you been putting off any repairs? Those crumbling porch steps could spell disaster as you get older. These home safety tips for seniors can help you simplify and ease into your retirement years.

  1. Transition Carpet to Hardwood Flooring

    Carpet may make your home feel warmer and cozier. However, even high-quality carpet will wear out, become shaggy and require ongoing maintenance. Carpeting and area rugs also become a tripping hazard as you age. Upgrading to hardwood flooring is a smart, safe way to senior proof your home. Hardwood flooring is virtually maintenance free and won’t wear out from heavy traffic. For a lower cost option, look into luxury vinyl, which offers many of the same benefits.

  2. Swap Light Bulbs for LEDs

    Skip the incandescent light bulbs in favor of LED. In addition to reducing energy costs, LED bulbs are an easy swap if a lower-maintenance home is your goal. That’s because they last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs and 2.5 times longer than CFL bulbs. LED lighting is a brighter solution all around!

  3. Update the Bathroom

    If a bathroom remodel is in your future, consider changing to a higher toilet seat. Regular toilet seats sit 17 inches or lower, but handicap-height toilet seats are 17-19 inches from the ground. If replacing the toilet isn’t in your budget, an elevated seat and grab bars make standing easier — a simple switch for senior safety. Just be sure not to obstruct the flushing mechanism.

    Stepping into a tub could become more difficult as you age. A walk-in shower with wall grips will allow you to get in and out easily and safely. You might also swap the bathroom vanity for a lower one, with an easier-to-access counter.

  4. Make Your Kitchen Smart

    When looking at lower-maintenance living, consider adding networked appliances to your kitchen. These appliances include refrigerators, stove/ovens, dishwashers and washer/dryers. Smart appliances are connected wirelessly to the internet and can warn you when repairs are needed through a phone app, making maintenance easy for seniors at home. You can also make your kitchen safer with wider paths and doorways and lower counter heights. Don’t forget to remove unnecessary clutter!

  5. Add Programmable Thermostat Controls

    Smart thermostats provide a lot of options. Your home will always be the ideal temperature when you can regulate it from a smartphone app. You can also prevent the temps in your home from dipping too low (and causing pipes to freeze) when you are away for extended periods of time. Be sure to install thermostats low enough on the wall so you don’t have to strain to view them when you are standing or sitting.

  6. Install a Leak Detection System

There’s nothing worse than coming home to a wet basement. Adding an automatic water leak detection and shutoff system can stop flooding issues from broken pipes and water leaks from broken water heaters and laundry units. A leak detection system can reduce your home’s maintenance needs and prevent you from worrying about water issues in the future, making it an essential tip for seniors living alone.

Lay the Groundwork

As you look forward to retirement, prepare your home by making it as maintenance free as possible. Look at ways you can improve efficiency now and create less work and issues in the future. Review your homeowners insurance with your Farm Bureau agent, who will help you ensure that if something does go wrong, you’ll have coverage in place to make recovery easy.