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?
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).
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.
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.
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.