Living Well with Parkinsons Disease

Dancing in the Rain: Lessons Learned on my Personal Journey with PD (more at Copyright 2013-20 Sheryl Jedlinski

Aging in Place

By Sheryl Jedlinski

Are you putting off exploring your options for retirement living because you think you can’t afford what you want? The good news is you probably can. If you are like most Americans over age 65, you want to grow older in the home in which you are already living, rather than move to a nursing home or assisted living facility. Even after factoring in necessary remodeling and support care costs, “aging in place” is almost always your least expensive option, especially if you have no mortgage expense. On top of this, surrounding ourselves with familiar sights, sounds, and smells triggers memory and slows memory loss and cognitive decline.

Last fall,  with our “nest” long empty, me dependent on a walker for mobility, and my husband Tony about to retire, we began assessing our current and future needs and how these meshed with the four-bedroom ranch home we built 38 years ago. Tony and I set in motion a plan to repurpose our space to allow us to live safely and independently in our beautiful house for many years to come. The end result exceeded our expectations.

Where we had only used about 80 percent of our house, we now use it all. We awake every day to marvel at what feels like a new house custom built to address all of our needs without looking institutional or financially burdening ourselves. While not “fully accessible,” our house meets our top goal of making it safe and easy for me to get around and complete everyday tasks on my own. Remodeling projects included:

  • Raising the family room floor eight inches to eliminate the step down from room to room. The room’s high ceiling made the change barely noticeable.
  • Combining essential rooms on the first floor to avoid the need for stairs: relocating my gym from the basement to a spare bedroom; moving Tony’s office into attic loft space I had occupied; and downsizing my office to fit in our living room with a view of our backyard gardens.
  • Installing walker and wheelchair friendly tile and low nap carpeting, with smooth transitions between the two.
  • Eliminating throw rugs and clutter to reduce fall risk.

Additional changes made to improve our quality of life included:

  • Transforming a wet bar into a coffee/snack bar, and a catchall closet into a built-in lighted book cabinet. Next to this we added a card table and chairs.
  • Replacing a sliding glass door with a French door for easier access to our deck.
  • Installing a ramp from the garage into the mudroom.

This is the perfect living arrangement for us, in that it also keeps us close to longtime family and friends and maintains our connections to our community.

Before you start making planning, contact the National Association of Home Builders to obtain a remodeling checklist and a directory of local aging in place specialists, as well as contractors who specialize in accessibility.

One comment on “Aging in Place

  1. Larry Williams
    May 15, 2019

    Your instinctive flare for decorating and gardening kept it comfortably yours as well…Such an important message for those in need of transition, but not sure how to achieve it without giving up their security blankets of familiarity….all so important for physical and mental well-being!

    As always, Sheryl….well done! Tem

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This entry was posted on May 15, 2019 by in Coping Strategies, Falling, Family Life, walker.

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