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Aging in place isn’t just a matter of deciding to stay put: You also need to make sure the space you’re staying in is safe and accessible.

If you’ve decided to age in place or help a loved one to age in place, then you’re likely facing a long list of home improvement projects to make that dream possible. It can all seem overwhelming—particularly if you’re also balancing health or financial concerns—but preparing a space for aging in place doesn’t have to be as complicated as it seems at first look, and there are many benefits that make it well-worth the effort, one of which is that many people simply prefer to stay at home.

“According to an AARP study, about 77% of people polled over the age of 50 said they wanted to remain in their homes for the long term or age in place,” says Medical Guardian’s Geoff Gross. “This number, according to the study, has remained consistent for more than a decade.”

Beyond personal preference—which is no small consideration—there are also economical considerations involved in making the decision to invest the time and money to prepare a home for aging in place.

“As we get older, it gets harder to get out of bed, up those stairs, in the tub, or get to that top shelf in the kitchen like we used to,” says Thumbtack home expert David Steckel. “Aging in place is typically in reference to a decision to adjust your home environment to meet new mobility, safety, and health needs vs. moving to a new home or even to a facility. It’s a way to stay in your community with your friends longer and is almost always more cost-effective than moving to an assisted living home.”

Luckily, there are common schools of thought when it comes to how to prioritize these projects, beginning with areas of the home that are the most prone to accidents, and experts on home remodeling and aging in place have best practices for going about your to-do list. Here, we share their suggestions for which projects you should prioritize for safety as you make your way through that aging in place to-do list.

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