When you hear the phrase “aging in place,” what comes to mind?
A house that looks cold and “institutional?” Or the chance to enjoy the style, comfort and convenience you want for years to come?
- In 2015, the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University reported that while many householders over 65 need some sort of accessibility improvement, most existing homes are not equipped to meet accessibility needs.
- However, even as the need for more accessible housing increases, surveys reveal that homeowners 55 and older are turned off by words like senior, disability, and accessibility.
Perhaps it’s time for a new conversation about aging in place design.
- Aging in place is not about making your home look like a nursing home.
- Aging in place design is about updating the style, efficiency, convenience and safety of your home.
In other words, aging in place means thriving in place — no matter how old you are, and whether or not you have a disability.
Let’s take a look at the advantages of aging in place design and some of the home improvements you might consider.
Benefits of Aging in Place Remodeling
When you make home improvements for aging in place, you’re also investing in a better quality of life over the long run. It’s a decision that offers you lots of benefits.
- Be prepared ahead of time. Home renovations may be easier to manage if you’re not also adapting to newly acquired health or mobility issues at the same time. By making some improvements now, you can take your time to research your options, select the renovations that fit your needs and make sure you’re spending your money wisely.
- Design for all users. The phrase “universal design” has been used in recent years to describe renovations that benefit all residents and guests — including those with or without disabilities. Many home improvements traditionally associated with aging are becoming more popular with homeowners of all ages. Examples include walk-in showers, higher toilet seats and natural lighting.
- Maintain the quality of life you want longer. Aging in place means you get to stay in a familiar environment, with all of your friends, pets and treasured belongings close at hand. In addition, your renovations may make your home more comfortable for relatives and friends who drop in for a visit.
- Improve safety. Modifications like grab bars, improved lighting and non-slip flooring may reduce your risk of an accident that leads to a disability. So an “aging in place” remodel could actually help you stay healthier longer.
- Enjoy a more convenient and comfortable home. Easier-to-reach kitchen cabinets and varied counter heights make cooking easier for everyone — from kids to parents to grandparents. And a shower seat is great for relaxing after a long day or a hard workout — whether or not you have limited mobility. Many aging in place renovations will make your home more comfortable and convenient for residents and guests of all ages for years to come.
- Lower your costs over time. The cost of remodeling is typically much less expensive than moving to a nursing home or assisted living community. In addition, improvements that reduce your risk of suffering falls, burns or other injuries could result in lower health-related costs over time.
- Boost the value of your home. Many home improvements commonly associated with aging are increasingly desired by homeowners of all ages. That lets you enjoy a more livable environment and boost the value of your home to future buyers.
Aging in Place Services to Consider
There really is no one-size-fits-all approach to aging in place design.
If you’re thinking of any type of remodeling project, consider your priorities, your house and your budget, then work with a qualified aging in place specialist to recommend the best options for you.
- Electrical improvements. This is an easy way to add safety, convenience and aesthetic value to any part of your home.
- Improve lighting on stairs, walkways and entryways by adding light fixtures or bringing in more natural light.
- Make everything easier to reach. Position outlets 18” from the floor and light switches lower than 48” so they can be easily reached by children or wheelchair users.
- Install paddle-style light switches that can be easily operated if your hands are full or if you have limited hand function.
- Entryways and doors. Make it easy for everyone to enter your home and move from to room to room.
- Your home should include at least one no-step entry.
- Consider lever-style door handles and window openers that can be used without grasping.
- Doorways should be at least 36” wide.
- Stairs and walkways. Improving stairs and walkways may reduce the risk of slip and fall accidents, and can facilitate the installation of additional accessibility features should they be needed in the future.
- Hard floors should be slip resistant. Wood floors and low pile carpeting are ideal if you use a wheelchair.
- Make sure staircases have adequate lighting and handrails on both sides. Steps should be deep enough and short enough to make them easy to climb. Make sure electrical outlets are installed at the top and bottom of the stairs in case a chair lift is needed in the future.
- Chair lifts and wheelchair ramps can be installed if you develop mobility limitations. Also, if your home has two or more stories, stack upper- and lower-level closets if possible. This makes it easier to install an elevator shaft.
- Bathrooms. There are many improvements that can make your bathroom easier to use if you have limited mobility, and safer and more comfortable for everyone. Here are a few examples of the most popular ideas for aging in place bathroom design:
- No-threshold shower
- Handheld shower head
- Shower steamer
- Shower seat
- Single handle levers
- Walk-in bathtubs
- Grab bars
- Correct toilet seat height
- Kitchens. Design your kitchen with accessibility, convenience and safety in mind.
- Vary the height of countertops so that food can be prepared standing or sitting.
- At least some countertops should have space underneath for seating.
- Make sure faucets, drawer handles, and cabinet doors can be used with limited hand function.
- Under cabinet lighting improves visibility when cooking and preparing food.
- Refrigerators with side-by-side doors are easier to use either standing or sitting.
- Install pull-out drawers, lazy susans and other storage options that don’t require extensive lifting or reaching.
These are just a few of the many aging in place design ideas that may benefit you.
Do you want to continue living in the home you love? Do you need renovations to accommodate your changing needs?
Talk to us at Amos Building Company. We’ll answer all of your questions and provide helpful information on how you can continue to thrive right where you live for years to come!