Essential Remodeling Projects for an Aging Home
While planning your retirement, it’s important to consider strategies for aging at home. This is a growing trend in the worlds of both elder care and real estate. One reason for this trend is that senior living communities and care facilities can be extremely expensive, straining or even exceeding many people’s retirement savings. Meanwhile, recent polls reveal that the majority of seniors wish to remain in their own homes as they age. Unfortunately, many people are forced to leave simply because their home isn’t set up to meet their changing needs.
Remodeling your home with an eye toward aging in place will give you your best chance of remaining in your own home and maintaining your standard of living for the remainder of your life.
What Is Aging in Place?
Aging in place means continuing to live in your own home for as long as your health and other factors allow. That’s the simple answer. In the bigger picture, aging in place means anticipating how your needs may change as you age and creating a home environment capable of accommodating those changing needs.
Use this overview of key aging in place remodeling projects as a starting point for your own plans.
High Priority Projects for Aging at Home
Principles of both barrier-free design and universal accessibility can be used to ensure that key areas of your home remain functional for you as you age. These are the key projects to consider:
Incorporating barrier-free design into the layout of your home’s entryways is the first step in ensuring you’re able to age at home. Here’s how to do it:
- Replace steps with ramps.
- Ensure at least one ramp into your home is covered for protection against the elements.
- Widen narrow doorways and hallways to accommodate mobility aids like a walker or power chair.
A traditional tub presents many barriers for people with mobility issues. Removing those barriers is essential for any aging at home project. Here’s how to do it:
- Replace your tub with an easy-to-access curbless shower.
- Include a seat in your shower design to help prevent falls and fatigue.
- Use lever-style faucet handles and include a detachable sprayer head.
Bathrooms are the areas that present the greatest challenge in terms of daily living. Bathrooms are also where the majority of falls occur in a home, so modifying those areas can significantly impact how appropriate the home is for aging in place.
Another key remodeling project for aging in place is ensuring that you’re still able to access your sinks as your mobility changes. Here’s how to do it:
- Install adjustable sinks which can be electronically raised or lowered according to your needs.
- Include lever-style faucet handles since issues like arthritis can make twisting knobs difficult.
- In the kitchen, choose an adjustable sink with attached counter space.
Additional Aging at Home Projects
While these aging in place designs are not as high a priority as those mentioned above, they’re still important to consider as you make your plans:
Cook Top and Wall Oven
Remaining able to cook for yourself is a major factor in your ability to age at home. However, using a traditional oven and range can present many challenges as you age. Here’s how to combat them:
- Install a cooktop that allows you to slide dishes onto it directly from the counter.
- Install a wall oven that’s accessible for both someone in a wheelchair and someone standing.
- Consider a wall oven with pull-out counter space for easier transfer of dishes in and out.
Pull-Out Shelf Cabinetry
Reaching into cabinets to pull things out can become difficult and even dangerous as you age. It’s important to address this difficulty in your aging in place designs. Here’s how to do it:
- Install pull-out shelf cabinetry for easier access.
- Make your under-counter cabinets your primary storage area since this will decrease your risk of suffering a fall, and will be necessary if you begin using a wheelchair.