Barriers can make sense and afford protection:
For instance, balcony railings prevent falls, or a red traffic light prevents vehicles colliding on the roads. Other barriers, however, restrict independence, mobility and freedom in daily life.
Accessible accommodation – i. e. with only few or no barriers – means a home without obstacles and stumbling-blocks. Steps, thresholds and narrow doors, in particular, can become barriers in old age.
But they are not insuperable: following appropriate conversions, you can still move around your home unimpeded in old age and cope with daily life without outside help. A need-oriented, accessible home not only improves comfort and convenience, but also contributes to avoiding injuries due to falls. It also makes it easier to maintain social contacts: after all, a home without steps and thresholds is more convenient not only for you, but also for friends who visit you – be it in a wheelchair or with a pushchair.
Anyone thinking about how they want to live in old age, is well advised not just to focus on the home.
The residential environment is also important. So, if you’d like to stay in your familiar surroundings in old age, in the rented accommodation or the home of your own where you’ve lived for a long time, you should examine your environment with an eye to the future:
- Accessibility also applies to the residential environment. It should be of such a nature that you can get to the most important shops, doctors and public transport stops on foot and without obstacles.
- You may perhaps need assistance one day – help in the house, when shopping, or even long-term care. In that case, it’s good if services of this kind are available nearby, for money or (at least partly) on a voluntary basis.
- People make the difference: acquaintances to have a chat with, nice neighbours, friends nearby. Social networks in the residential environment are worth their weight in gold, and a good reason to stay in your area. After all, they secure contacts and offer opportunities for mutual assistance.
You can use the following checklist to get an idea of whether you live in an age-appropriate residential environment. You should be able to answer “Yes” to most of the questions.
Is my neighbourhood suitable for people in old age - PDF, 87 KB