The concept of “aging in place” has become increasingly common over the past several decades, as baby boomers consider options and make decisions about how to spend their golden years. Most don’t want to go to a nursing home if they can avoid it. The vast majority of older Americans want to continue living in the comfort of their own homes, where they can be safe and independent while enjoying the peace and comfort of familiar surroundings.
In order for this to happen, however, most homes need specific modifications to accommodate the needs of aging owners. If you are considering remodeling your home for this purpose, start with this simple aging-in-place checklist.
- Increase bathroom safety. Due to matters of safety, convenience and expediency, your #1 priority if you plan to stay in your home should be a full bath on the main floor. While this might be a big expense if it has to be built from the ground up, the alternative is installing a lift or elevator – which can be much pricier. Wider doorways (at least 32 inches wide) allow plenty of room to maneuver wheelchairs and walkers. Additional safety features in the main bathing area should include a curbless shower with grab bars and a bench, as well as a taller toilet with grab bars nearby.
- Eliminate stairs and steps. As we get older, we become less agile. Our balance becomes less secure and falls have much greater consequences. Stairs should be avoided at all costs, with no steps between rooms and at least one covered no-step entry. If you live in a multi-level home, rearrange your layout so that all of your main living areas can be accessed from the main level. If you have a beautiful deck you still want to be able to enjoy, contact Handyman Connection to arrange for a deck handyman to build a ramp.
- Choose the right flooring. It’s important to have smooth transitions between rooms and flooring that reduces the chance of tripping, while also providing a softening effect if a fall does occur. While tile and hardwood provide a hard, smooth surface for wheelchairs and walkers, they are also the most unforgiving if you fall. Areas rugs can provide a softening effect but also pose a tripping hazard. Your best bet is carpeting no more than ½-inch high, with firm padding that’s not too thick. If you prefer the look of hardwood or tile, high-quality vinyl flooring is a good compromise. It’s softer but still looks like the real thing.
- Install lever-style door handles. Muscle strength decreases with age, and arthritis and other joint issues make using traditional knobbed door handles painful and difficult. Fortunately, this problem has a quick and fairly inexpensive fix: replace round doorknobs with lever-style handles which open easily with a little downward pressure.
- Add more lighting. One trip over a cord or an item left on the floor is all it takes to cause a major fall. Make your house brighter by increasing the wattage in the light fixtures you already have, and think about adding recessed lights in rooms that only have one or two sources of light. Nightlights are also useful to light dim hallways and help with nighttime navigation.
Get Professional Remodeling Assistance
If you’re considering staying in your own home as you grow older, there are sure to be a few changes needed. At Handyman Connection, our workers have the skills to make your home as safe and comfortable as possible for your retirement years. Give us a call today at 1-800-888-HANDY to find the perfect handyman for the job!