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Ask any person and they will tell you that they’d prefer to spend their twilight years in their own house — where they’ve made a lifetime of memories. And, NOT in an assisted living facility or a nursing home. Fortunately, with the aid of technology, availability of services such as home meal delivery, and universal designs — aging in place home modifications are easy enough.
Consequently, many senior citizens can turn their beloved home into a safe haven and continue to keep their independence intact. According to the American Association of Retired Persons, AARP, as many as 90 percent of seniors above the age of 65 plan on living in their own homes.
As a result, the number of remodeling companies or certified aging in place specialists carrying out aging in place home modifications are also on a rise. They endeavor to make life for senior residents easier and more convenient — without sacrificing the aesthetic appeal of the house.
To clarify, aging in place refers to a senior person continuing to live in the residence of their choice, for as long as they are able to. Needless to say, aging in place improves their quality of life and adds comfort — while maintaining their physical health. Most importantly, it takes care of all safety hazards.
There’s no doubt that aging in place is a lot cheaper and comfortable than living in a nursing home that can cost around $50,000 a year. In contrast, the national average of adding aging in place home modifications is about $10,000.
Of course, the total remodeling cost depends on the extent of work, size of the dwelling, and the area zip code. If you’re looking for financial assistance to carry out these home modifications, you can explore all your loan options, including a reverse mortgage. Also, do contact your local area agency on aging. They might be of considerable help.
These modifications are home improvements to accommodate the changing needs of the elderly or disabled. Most importantly, the physical changes are made keeping the slow mobility and diminishing physical strength of aged people in mind.
Some of these aging in place home modifications could be as simple as changing the water faucet handles to include levers instead of knobs or as detailed as installing a ramp in the entryway. Or, setting up a completely separate mother-in-law suite on the premises.
So, if you or someone you love needs help with aging in place home modifications, we’ve prepared a list of common home modifications that are the key to a dignified, independent way of life.
Exterior design and entryway
- Add ramps in your home’s entry and exits for easy wheelchair access as well as eliminating the need to navigate steps.
- Install a roof or canopy over the main entrance to protect aged home dwellers from inclement weather.
Doorways and walkways
- Keep at least 36” of clearance for interior doorways and walkways in order to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers.
- Replace conventional swing doors with sliding doors.
- Replace any overhead showerhead with a hand-held one.
- Install wall-mounted grab bars in the shower area as well as near the toilet.
- Install a curbless shower or walk-in tub for easy accessibility.
- Make sure that the tub and shower controls are closer to the entrance.
- Install temperature- and pressure-balanced valves for a safer bathing experience.
- Raise the toilet seat or add special attachments designed for elderly people.
- Replace the overhead light fixture with an infrared bulb to help keep the bathroom warm and comfortable during winters.
- Get indoor threshold ramps for a seamless surface transition from one room to another.
- Install grab bars or railings near the bed to provide additional support and prevent slip and fall injuries.
- Ensure that the grab bar holds up to 250 pounds and is screwed into the wall studs, not just the sheetrock.
- Make things easily accessible. You might have to raise the height of the dishwasher, kitchen sink, or the pull-out shelves.
- Install multi-level countertops with rounded corners to accommodate both standing as well as sitting while preparing food.
- Move kitchen appliances within easy reach.
- Install heat sensors near the stove.
- Replace your kitchen faucet with a single-lever, anti-scald one to prevent any kind of injury.
- Select side-by-side refrigerators with slide-out shelves and a side-opening oven for best accessibility.
- Remove carpets from stairs and instead use non-slip vinyl covering.
- If you must have a carpet, choose less than ½-inch pile and check to make sure it’s fully secured.
- Always install a sturdy handrail on both sides.
- Keep the stair treads 10” to 11” deep and wide enough for the whole foot.
- Keep the step height at 7” maximum.
Colors and paints
- Paint the walls in a different color than the floors. It can aid perception.
- Add colored lines on stairs, counter edges, and floor transitions.
- Use contrasting colors to make features throughout the home more visible.
- Remove cabinet doors or install open shelving in the kitchen and elsewhere for easy handling.
- Opt for big cabinet pulls if you decide to keep the cabinet doors.
Laundry room and storage
- Make sure the laundry room has easy access to appliances and cleaning items.
- Raise the platform that holds the washer and dryer to a convenient height.
- Ensure that the folding table and storage are wide and easy to reach.
- Opt for adjustable open shelving.
- Install securely attached carpets with no more than half an inch thickness.
- Follow the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines for flooring.
- Install anti-slip bathroom flooring with a coefficient of friction of 0.6 or higher.
- Install bright night lights in hallways and bathrooms.
- Use table or floor lamps to facilitate easy reading.
- Put adhesive tape lights under cabinets for extra illumination on countertops.
- Make sure every light switch is in a convenient spot. Choose motion-sensing light switches if possible.
Faucets and water heater
- Opt for touch-less faucets for people with arthritis or grip issues.
- Replace twist faucet handles with levers.
- Install anti-scald faucets in order to prevent sudden bursts of hot water.
- Lower the temperature on the water heater to 120 degrees or less.
- Install smart devices that can enhance the safety and comfort level of the inhabitants.
- Opt for useful tools such as the Amazon Echo or Google Home that can help the older adults make calls, play music, get news and weather updates, and much more without having to get up.
- If you want to monitor your loved ones’ movement as well as their vitals, you can make use of wearable technology such as smartwatches and shoe insoles.
- Outfit special sensors, home monitoring systems, or home automation security to alert an emergency care service or family member of an abnormal entry.