You Must Remodel When You Age In Place

An attractive senior couple at home on the couch together. Isolated on white.

Every morning we wake up another day older. Although day by day this may not seem to make a huge difference, year after year we start to feel the changes happening and suddenly realize we have shifted into a person who requires a bit more convenience in order to live comfortably. Because these changes can make a pretty significant impact on our daily activities we are required to ultimately decide where we want to spend the portion of our lives when we shift from adult to senior to elderly. While some choose to move in with family or live in an assisted living facility others choose to stay in the comfort of their own home as long as possible. This is referred to as Aging in Place and is coming up more and more frequently with homeowners in Escondido.

Although the idea of staying in your own home seems simple enough, it requires some significant changes to assure any elderly persons living there will have access to all areas of the home.  The goal is to also ensure seniors living in the home will be able to complete all activities of daily living. The ultimate goal when remodeling your home with the intention of Aging in Place is to not only maintain quality of life but to possibly improve it as well. Granted, there are a plethora of senior-friendly features that can be added to home to make it even more convenient but first and foremost individual changes need to be made to specific rooms.

 

 

What Rooms Need to be Remodeled When You Age In Place – and Why?

  1. Exterior

When you age in place, changes to the Exterior of the home are just as important as changes to the Interior of the home because it serves as both the entrance and exit. This means the first thing that needs to be addressed is the access point to the front door. Considering those who are elderly tend to be at an increased fall risk and the use of stairs can enhance that risk 10 folds it is necessary to add a railing for those who are capable of using the stairs and also a ramp for those who require mobility assistance such as a walker or a wheel chair. Should you choose to add some sort of ramp it is worth noting that there are a variety of features that may be implemented, such as adding walkable hill or slope, to avoid placing a bulky handicap ramp in the front of the home.  Additionally, stair treads can be added to the stair case and walkways to prevent slipping (which poses an increased risk during the winter months).

  1. Kitchen

Remodeling the kitchen is all about enhancing convenience. Everything should be easily accessible without having to struggle by standing on a stool, for example, or even bending down to the bottom cabinet and then reaching to the very back just to find the cast iron pan that somehow made its way just out of reach. This specific inconvenience can be avoided by installing cabinets equipped with pull-out shelves. Also, if you are considering adding an eat-in counter top it may be beneficial to consider placing it at least 30 inches from the ground so you can utilize dining chairs rather than bar stools. Lastly, lifting the dishwasher 10-12 inches off the ground can dramatically decrease the need to bend down.

  1. Bathroom

Being one of the most utilized rooms in the home as well as one of the most slippery, when you age in place the bathroom needs to be remodeled not only for convenience but for safety as well. It is important that the home contain at least one bathroom on the main floor. If this is not already the case, you might consider either a bathroom addition or at the very least adding in a chair lift to the stair case for easy and safe access to the upstairs bathroom. All other changes to the bathroom are technically just a series of added features to decide upon for increased safety and convenience. Something people tend to over-look however, is the amount of space elderly persons may require in order to properly and safely move around the bathroom area. Those who require assistive mobility devices require additional space to move around as well as additional space to store those devices such as walkers, canes and even wheel chairs while they bathe or use the toilet.

  1. Common Areas

Common areas include anything from Doorways to Living Rooms. Essentially, anywhere that is consistently used by both guests and those living in the home. It is important that these areas can be easily maneuvered around by those who are walking as well as those utilizing walkers and wheel chairs. For this reason, when you age in place the doorways and hallways are recommended to be a minimum of 32 inches wide (ideally 36 inches wide). Non-slip flooring is also essential in maintaining a safe home for elderly persons. Replacing tile or wood flooring with carpet is best however in areas where water is frequently used such as the kitchen or bathroom it is acceptable to simply add in some form of non-slip floor covering (throw rugs should be taken out entirely as they are unsecured and can lead to a fall). Lastly, it is important to eliminate any struggle that may come along with hard to open doors, cupboards or drawers. This can be achieved by replacing the cupboard and drawer handles with “D-shaped” pulls and replacing all turn style door knobs with levers.

 

Considering each home is unique in the way its floor plan is laid out there may or may not be additional areas that require remodeling. The aforementioned room remodels are however, a necessity in maintaining a safe and accessible home when choosing to Age in Place. Once those specific changes have be decided upon throughout the home, there are a plethora of additional features that may be added to increase safety, convenience and overall quality of life.

Home Features For Aging In Place

Choosing to Age in Place is a big decision, but if you remodel your home properly it can improve your quality of life considerably. Staying put requires a fairly significant home remodel in order to accommodate any future needs you may have as you grow older and therefore less capable of easily completing activities of daily life. If planned out properly, the experience of remodeling a home with the intention of Aging in Place can be exciting once you realize how many fun and innovative features there are to choose from. These features range from the widening of doorways to installing smart appliances and light up walkways. Of course each feature applied to the home remodel should be directly correlated with your specific wants and needs.

  1. Exterior Features

Low Maintenance- Because the end goal of this type of remodel is all about creating convenience, a low maintenance exterior is one of the most important things to consider. Unlike just about every other area of the home, this is one feature you can add to the home that is universal to every persons needs because no matter your capability or even your age, having a low maintenance exterior is always going make life just that much easier. Such features include metal roofing, which are not only low maintenance but conserves energy as well, composite decking and even vinyl sliding doors and windows.

Automatic Lighting- Automatic lighting is another great feature used to increase convenience and even safety. This can be automatic porch lights and if you choose to add a walkway or slope for easy wheelchair access it is a great option to add automatic lighting to pathways. Lastly, the front door should have a low or no-lip step (1/2” or less) to avoid falls and to increase the simplicity of pushing a wheel chair through or stepping over with a walker.

  1. Kitchen Features

Kitchen Appliances- If you are considering buying new appliances, one of the best features you can add to your newly remodeled home are smart appliances. These appliances should have both a large and clear display. Some even have the ability to work via voice command which can prove to be very useful. Additionally, a useful feature to have on appliances, which is conveniently a fairly universal feature already, is a large elongated handle making it easier to reach for.

Height- One of the most important things you can change about your kitchen is the height of certain appliances, cupboards and countertops simplifying access and eliminating the need to bend over and reach for things. The dishwasher should be lifted approximately 12 inches off the ground and any eat-in counter tops should be around 30 inches from the ground to avoid the need to use bar stools rather than dining chairs.

Kitchen Cabinets- A feature is available for both upper and lower cabinets to eliminate reaching and bending for items. This includes pull-out shelves on rollers for the lower cabinets and pull-down shelves on rollers for the upper cabinets.

Kitchen Sink- There are many different features that can be added to the sink to enhance convenience. One of which is the sink itself. A motorized sink is available that gives you the ability to move the sink up and down based on your specific needs. It is recommended however, that if you choose this feature you also leave space open below the sink for those who need to use a chair of some sort while utilizing the sink in its lower position and that the sink itself be no more than 6 inches deep. There are also features such as anti-scald devices and touch free faucet sensors (which can be added to bathrooms as well).

  1. Bathroom Features

Tub/Shower- There are a lot of options for senior friendly bathroom remodels.  Ideally the bathroom will be equipped with a separate bathtub and shower rather than the run of the mill two-in-one set up. If this is not the case it may be a good idea to consider making the change. Bathtubs and showers pose one of the biggest fall risks in the home so there are a variety of features that can be added to increase safety such as non-slip floor covers, grab bars and shower seats.

Toilet- Although adding a grab bar is really the only necessary feature you may require for a toilet, there are a plethora of innovative features that you can add to your toilet. The only additional recommended change is to purchase a comfort-height model toilet which is higher than normal making it easier to stand up and sit down. Additionally there is the option of purchasing a smart toilet whose features are more fun than functional when it comes to the needs of a person remodeling to Age in Place. Even still, smart toilets are a thing of the future and include features such as heated seats, charging ports for your phone, music players and so on.

  1. Miscellaneous Features

Lighting- Increasing the lighting through-out the home is essential in maintaining a safe living environment considering the fact that age has an uncanny way of stealing away our vision. Adding lights to places such as stair cases and hallways can greatly increase an elderly person’s ability to maneuver around with ease.

Elevator/Stair-Lift- Although a one floor layout is ideal for those choosing to stay put in old age, there are certain instances in which a multi floor layout is preferred by the home owner. Should this be the case, an elevator just might be the feature for you. If you have the budget for it, an elevator can not only assist with maneuvering up and down the levels of the house but can also assist with moving items through-out the levels. If an elevator is a little too “hotel” for your taste, there is always the option of a stair lift which can serve the same purpose with the small exception of moving larger items from the first floor to the second.

Furthermore it is worth mentioning that any seasoned remodeling company will have the ability
to provide additional senior friendly home remodeling ideas that may be catered to your individual needs incorporating safety, convenience and style into your forever home.