Stay Put (Age in Place) or Head Out?

The following article was contributed by Claudia Rumwell of Senior Care Organizer. The Senior Care Organizer is a winning combination of resource material, care giving information and organizational insights.

It’s not to say we shouldn’t think about the future. We need to because we don’t know what our needs will be when we’re in our 70’s or 80’s. We may be fairly healthy at the moment, but we also know that things can change. If you’re caring for your parents right now, you’ve already learned that. If, like me, your parents have already gone on to Heaven, you could be thinking about what your own future may be like with respect to care needs. Do I stay put? (“Age in Place”) OR do I move?

This article is to discuss “staying put.” And if that choice is made, there are definitely ways to make our home safe and more senior-friendly, as we move through our ‘day to day” activities. In fact if needed, these ideas can also apply to our aging parents as well. It’s not to say that everyone can “age in place” for the rest of their lives; but certainly whatever time we add to staying in our own homes is a ‘plus’ in so many ways.

Several years ago, I remember going through our parents’ home and making several safety-based changes to allow them to safely “stay put” longer. Now, however, there is a profession that specializes in helping people stay safely in their homes. A Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) will come in and review your home room by room, ask questions about your conditions and habits, provide an evaluation report and go over it with you. Most will recommend providers who can do the work for you, but basically, you will make the choice of who the contractor will be. For you in the Portland area, I recently met a Certified Aging in Place Specialist.

So, to get you started, the following ideas are offered from The Senior Care Organizer, along with The Complete Eldercare Planner (chapter 10), by Joy Loverde.

General safety

  • Replace door knobs with door handles. [Arthritic hands make it difficult to turn a knob].
  • Remove throw rugs and any clutter on the floors to reduce/prevent falls
  • Be sure there is easy access to doorways and windows
  • Make sure the front door has a “peephole” for checking on who is at the door
  • Make electrical outlets accessible. Check that appliance and electric cords are safe to use.
  • Install nightlights in the bathrooms, hallway, kitchen.
  • Make sure any stairs are non-slippery, well lit, and have a handrail.
  • Check that smoke detectors are present and in working condition. Consider having a carbon monoxide detector.


  • Check outdoor steps. There should be a handrail. Determine if steps are difficult to maneuver. Consider placing a ramp for accessibility.
  • Employ a family member or other individual to mow the lawn, weed, etc.when it becomes more difficult to take care of the yard to reduce the possibility of injury.
  • Secure windows so as not to allow easy entrance for intruders.Consider adding motion sensor lighting.

It’s a fact… we’re all going to be older and our lives will change in various ways. Many of us will be able to stay in our homes late into our senior years, but some will not. However for the time being, we can make a concerted effort to prepare our home to be as safe as possible for us to live in.