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.
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.
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).
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.
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.