Remodeling Ideas for an Aging in Place Home
Remodeling your home is the best way to ensure that aging in place is a safe and comfortable experience. Read further for ideas from Avila Home Care on how to remodel all the major rooms of the house.
Most homes are not built with aging in place in mind, but as you and your family get older, it is important to consider some slight—and maybe some not so slight—alterations that will vastly improve safety, maneuverability, and comfort.
Location and Maneuverability
There should be a bedroom, one full bath, and kitchen on the main floor of the house. This will ensure ease of accessibility to the three main hubs of activity in the home. If this is not possible, consider installing a chairlift or elevator to assist those with difficulty walking up stairs. It is especially important that these three rooms be large, and are kept clean and well-organized for maximum accessibility. Doorways and walkways should be no smaller than thirty-two inches wide in order to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers.
Slips and falls become of greater concern as we age. Here are some areas where safety handles and grab bars should be installed:
- Near toilets
- Inside showers
- Over bathtubs
- Near the bed
- Down the staircase
- In hallways
Also consider installing a corded phone–which won’t be affected by power outages–in each of the main areas. Ensure fire alarms, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and any security systems are kept up-to-date and in good working order.
An aging in place home should have a mix of natural and artificial light. Installing light fixtures in dark hallways and through the staircase can help prevent accidents. Track lighting can be installed in cabinets and closets where visibility is difficult. Light fixtures with a rocker-style switch are easily used by people of all ages and abilities. For ultimate ease of use, consider purchasing lights that have an automatic function to light up a room or area as soon as someone has entered. These can also cut down on electrical bills, as they will prevent wasteful use of lights.
The kitchen has the most improvement opportunity with regards to creating a more work-friendly environment. Consider having countertops built in varying heights, which will help those who need to sit when working in the kitchen. Prevent injury by using countertops with rounded corners, and help improve visibility by having a contrasting colored border created around the edge of those surfaces. Consider these additional tips:
- Install cabinets even a mere three inches lower than standard height can greatly improve accessibility, and consider “Lazy Susan” style cabinets for maximum ease of use.
- Use D-ring handles to help people of all abilities access cabinetry.
- Raise the level of the dishwasher and oven to help prevent excessive bending and stooping, which is a serious strain for many elderly people.
- Install sinks with pull-out water nozzles and shallow basins to prevent strain when washing.
The bathroom also has room for such improvements. Walk-in showers, grab bars and shower seats make washing much easier for those who have difficulty walking or standing. Adjustable shower heads can help accommodate people of all abilities, and promote comfort and ease while showering.
The last decade or so has brought us more stylish, affordable and quality ways to remodel a home with aging in place in mind. Your home can be safe and accessible, all while retaining the comfort and charm of your previous living space. With a few thoughtful adjustments, you can turn your home into an aging in place paradise. For additional information, consult one of our expert caregivers.
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