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Growing Old in an RV

Growing Old in an RV

Traveling is among the top 10 things people look forward to when retiring and owning an RV allows new retirees to transition into fulfilling this objective on their bucket list. Retirement also comes with challenges for aging people and just like those who make changes in their home space to adapt to getting older, the same considerations need to be made when the RV lifestyle is the plan for these golden years.

RVing is not an easy breezy way of life. There is physical labor – setting up camp, leveling the RV, cleaning out the water tanks, and other tasks that require physical exertion. Of course, technology has made much of these chores easier. But, there is still some level of exertion required to live the RV lifestyle.

Just as there are ways to automate living in a house with technology such as Alexa and Google Assistant, these same devices can deploy to make RV living a little easier. The leveling system, interior and exterior lights, the thermostat, and even small appliances can be turned on, turned down, or turned off with a simple voice command.

How do RV owners adapt living conditions as they age?

The first piece of advice offered by seniors who are living the RV lifestyle is to find the right rig that will serve your needs now and in the future. Towable motorhomes are the most popular choice among RVers in the senior age category, for both the extra space these rigs provide and the mobility to move from campground to campground with relative ease. It has minimal hitching effort involved and can easily tow a small vehicle for added mobility once camp is set.

Look for an RV that has a single level floor plan. Even though the added space of a loft area like those found in a fifth wheel is a perk, accessing that same area may prove difficult as the RV owners age.

If there are steps in your motorhome, make these safe to access. Have a handrail installed and light the way with led lights. Add non-slip strips to stairs to cut down on the slip hazards, especially when conditions are wet and slippery.

The sturdier the stairs the better and this should be one of the items on your checklist in your search for the RV.

The same is true for your towing vehicle. Ensure that you will always be able to get in and out comfortably and safely. Opt for pickup trucks with a step or bar to help make the climb in and out safer and more adaptable to physical limitations.

Choose a walk-in shower for the onboard bathroom. Even a small lip at the entrance to a shower may become a tripping hazard later. A shower that includes a bench is a bonus, as well as handrails for stability. Even a simple non-slip bath mat can make sure everyone is safe. The bathroom environment is a top spot for falls and anything that can prevent this from happening is an important consideration.

Make sure other areas in the bathroom have safety features too. Adding a grab bar by the toilet could come in handy when sore muscles, arthritis, injuries, or simply aging make getting up from the toilet a task. Having something to hold onto or pull up on is an easy-to-install accommodation.

Lighting is another important factor to consider when growing older. Add better lighting to the interior by swapping out incandescent bulbs to LEDs. Some bulbs give a warmer yellowish glow and others give a bright white or even daylight glow, which are better for sight. Add battery-operated lights to darker areas such as under cabinets, in corners, near stairs, and anyplace else that requires a bit more lighting.

Apply the same principles to your exterior lights. It’s important to be able to see any obstacles that might be a tripping hazard in your camp. Better illumination outside can reduce the chances of falls and provides a measure of added security around your rig and campsite.

Consider keeping a flashlight or headlamp near the door to help navigate the way in the dark if you need to leave the RV. When darkness falls early, as it does in the fall and winter, this portable light can be carried for trips to the campground office, the bathhouse, or just to grab something left behind at the fire pit. If you can’t see clearly, your chances of falling or tripping over a branch, root, or uneven ground increase.

Staying in place as a person ages is shown to be much more beneficial to the person. In a survey by AARP, 90 percent of older adults would prefer to remain in their own homes as they age. The same can be true for those who live in an RV.

For folks who are poised to enter the so-called “golden years” of life, planning can help them enjoy the RV lifestyle longer without compromising comfort and safety. They get to continue the independence of going and doing what they enjoy and can experience the friendships and adventures that keep people in the RV lifestyle. 

Sep 23rd 2021 Lois Tomaszewski

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