A host of baby boomers are reaching retirement age daily. Many work beyond the age of 65, and most want to stay in their homes as they age. If you’re one of the many people who desire to live in your current home for as many decades as possible, read on!
With proper planning, you can remain in your home comfortably and safely for years by creating spaces accessible to anyone regardless of their physical limitations (also called Universal Design).
Let’s take a look at some practical home modifications and upgrades you can implement now in order to age in place during your senior years and bypass the rising cost of long-term care.
Top Remodeling Projects to Age in Place
If you plan on staying in your home during your golden years, there’s no time like the present to prepare for that. Given the high price of long-term care, it pays to prepare your current home now, so you have the option to live independently in the house you love and cherish for years.
Here are some practical ways to get started.
Aging in place defined
Today’s maturing Americans are planning ahead to stay in their own home for as long as possible rather than moving into a nursing home or assisted living for seniors. This gives older adults a greater opportunity for independence, comfort, and community over the decades. It includes support services one may require over time to live in good health and safety.
What to Update to Prepare for the Future
As you plan ahead to age in place, begin by decluttering your home. Falling is one of the biggest hazards for senior adults, and to prevent falls, it’s vital that you have a clutter-free space in which to walk about each day.
- Remove items lining hallways to make way for a walker or wheelchair.
- Eliminate throw rugs from every room of the house to avoid tripping.
- Declutter closets, drawers, and all living spaces. Create piles to throw away, give away, and put away. Next, organize the things you choose to keep so they are easily accessed.
- Clean out your pantry and refrigerator. Get rid of all outdated food and organize the food you have.
Smooth exterior walkways will minimize the possibility of a fall outdoors. Uneven surfaces that are poorly maintained can be a liability.
Remodeling—Replace gravel paths with cement. Upgrade cracked or uneven sidewalks with new cement walkways. Trim bushes away from pavement.
Your Home’s Entry
It’s ideal to have no steps leading up to your front door (or side door). If steps get too hard to navigate, you’ll appreciate the easy entry. Also, a covered entry will protect you from the elements.
Remodeling—Renovate your home’s entry (or side door) with steps to a no-steps configuration.
If your home has a second floor, it’s ideal to create a way to live on the first floor in case you ever needed that as you age in place. Many seniors “move downstairs” to make for an easier transition over the years should their mobility change.
Remodeling—Create a bedroom and bathroom you can use long-term on the first floor of your current home. Other options include installing an elevator (which will add significant value to your home), or a stair glide to help you get from one floor to another with ease. An electric stair lift ensures your safety as you execute the stairway. It will give you security in traveling from floor to floor in your home.
Doorways and Hallways
Scooters, wheelchairs and walkers are up to 27” wide, so ensure your doorways and hallways can accommodate these in case you need them in the future. In fact, accessible homes have hallways that are a minimum width of 48” and doorways that are a minimum width of 36” for ease of use in case of the need for assisted devices for mobility.
Remodeling—Widen your doorways and hallways as needed to accommodate the accessibility minimums.
Brighter light that is glare-free works best for senior adults. Add fixtures near high-activity areas in your home, and add shades to decrease the possibility of unwanted glare. Remove heavy curtains from your home and replace them with updated easy-to-use blinds or simple window treatments to maximize natural light in your home.
Changing light bulbs is a risk, so switching to LED bulbs will help your lights last about 50 times longer than typical incandescent lighting, 20 times longer than halogen, and 10 times longer than a typical CFL.
Remodeling—Evaluate lighting throughout your home and have additional lighting installed for ease of use during your senior years. Ensure your lighting is consistent from one area of your home to the next. Add skylights for more natural light in your home, and add windows as needed to brighten up your space.
Balance can be tricky as we age, so flooring is an important area to evaluate when preparing for the future. When it is different heights, trips and falls can result. Prevent falls with proper flooring. And make sure you choose floors that are easy to clean and maintain.
Remodeling—Replace flooring with softer materials that are more forgiving if someone falls—like vinyl padded flooring that looks like tile. Rubber floors are soft, slip-resistant, and fire-resistant. They can be treated with water-soluble wax, making them water and stain-resistant (super low maintenance!).
Bathrooms are one of the most important rooms to prepare for aging in place. Prevent problems by planning ahead and remodeling now.
Remodeling—Install grab bars near the commode, tub, and in your showers to prevent falls. Showers are easier to use if you remove the lower lip between the bathroom floor and the shower. Install a shower seat and a handheld showerhead mounted on an adjustable grab bar. Bathroom sinks should be mounted high enough for a wheelchair to slide under without bumping into the pipes below your sink.
This space must be functional even if you need assistance with your mobility from a walker or wheelchair.
Remodeling—Renovate your kitchen for aging in place by making cabinets more accessible (pull-down upper cabinets, pull-out shelving for lower cabinets, and open shelving for frequently used kitchen items). Accessible appliances including microwave, dishwasher, side-by-side refrigerator, stove, and oven. Countertop heights should be configured to accommodate those standing (42”) or sitting (30”).
Ensure it’s easy to maneuver throughout your bedroom as you age and your mobility potentially changes.
Remodeling—This is the perfect time to replace your old bed with one that will better suit your desire to age in place. Adjustable beds give you options to raise and lower the head and foot of the bed to create the ideal sleeping position.
Levers are easier to grip than round doorknobs, and they require less of a twisting motion.
Remodeling—Change doorknobs to levers for ease of use.
Plan for the Future by Remodeling Now
At VL Builders, we understand the changing needs you may have over the years, and we’re here to help by remodeling your home so you can enjoy it longer, bypassing the high cost of long-term care.
Learn more about how our home remodeling services can bring your vision to life.