Home Modifications Can Remove Obstacles to Aging in Place
There is no place like home, however for many older adults their home does not accommodate for the physical and cognitive changes that come with aging. Steep stairways, narrow doorways, and other structural barriers can make a home feel like an obstacle course for those with limited mobility. A few universal design modifications can go a long way to help homeowners of all ages live safely and comfortably in their homes.
Here are some home improvement ideas that might allow you to remain in your home rather than moving elsewhere as you get older:
USE SMART HOME TECHNOLOGY
Invest in smart-home products. Technology is a game-changer for remaining independent and staying connected. Sensors can keep a virtual eye on you and your home to improve comfort, security, and energy efficiency. If you prefer, the devices can report back to a caretaker or a loved one about your daily routine, alerting them to changes that could indicate risk.
FALL-PROOF YOUR HOME
The National Institute on Aging reports that 6 in 10 falls happen at home. A few simple modifications can significantly increase your safety and comfort.
Modifying the front entryway so the surface is level will reduce the risk of falling and make the transition from the outside to the inside easier. If the house has front steps, at minimum the addition of a handrail on each side can increase safety. Long-term accessibility can be achieved with the addition of a temporary ramp or a more permanent sloping walkway.
Eliminate trip hazards by removing floor mats and throw rugs. Choose floor coverings that are slip-resistant, durable for wheelchair or walker use and able to smoothly make the transition to adjacent rooms. If the budget allows, install a stair lift or elevator.
MAKE SPACES ACCESSIBLE
Widen doorways. Narrow doorways are problematic for people of all ages, but especially for people with limited mobility. Make your doorways at least 36 inches wide instead of the standard 30 inches. To make doors easy and safe to use, replace doorknobs with lever-type handles.
Make your bathroom accessible. Consider replacing your tub with a walk-in shower instead of one with a step-over threshold. Install sturdy grab bars at the entrance to the shower, inside the shower, and by the toilet to provide stability and support. A taller toilet will aid in sitting and rising. Don’t want to replace the entire toilet, consider adding a power lift seat to help. Bidets or bidet toilet seat can significantly improve hygiene.
Modify the kitchen. Rollout shelves and making needed appliances counter height can help you maintain independence in the kitchen. An electric cooktop with controls on the front will eliminate the need to reach across hot burners.
ADD FUNCTIONALITY AND VALUE
Adapting your home to meet your long-term needs can save money when you consider the alternatives. Homeowners should weigh the costs associated with selling their home, and obtaining alternative living arrangements (i.e. senior housing, assisted living). Real estate experts say a homeowner can expect to get 102% of the cost of their bathroom remodel and 98.5% of a kitchen remodel back at resale.
PAYING FOR HOME MODIFICATIONS
Seniors may not have the income or savings to pay for modifications all at once. Homeowners aged 62+ can tap into the equity they have tied up in their home with special financing options. A reverse mortgage can help homeowners pay for modifications that make their home a comfortable and safe place to age in place.
Are you ready to make your homework for your changing needs but don’t know where to start? Call LiveWell Mobility and Modifications at (281) 771-1469. We can work with you to make sure your home meets your current needs and help you plan for the future. LiveWell was voted Best Senior Home Modification Provider in Houston for 2018 and 2019. Let us put our expertise to work for you.
Top 15 Home Updates That Pay Off. HGTV. Retrieved January 18, 2019 from https://www.hgtv.com/design/real-estate/top-home-updates-that-pay-off-pictures
Fall Proofing Your Home. NIH. Retrieved January 19, 2019 from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/fall-proofing-your-home