Renovations to Make Aging at Home Easier

WRITTEN BY CASSANDRA GATTONRenovations to Make Aging at Home Easier

As you or your loved one ages, your home may need to be adapted to accommodate lifestyle changes, accessibility and independence. Over 41% of individuals plan to stay in their own homes until the age of 81 or older. It is important to make gradual adaptations to your home as you age to allow for maneuverability. When remodeling to age at home, start early and plan ahead. It is cheaper to do small renovations one at a time than an entire home overhaul overnight.

Grab Bars

Installing grab bars can significantly decrease falls and injuries. They should be installed where the floor may get wet or transition to a different level. Grab bars should be installed by a professional contractor because they require special reinforcement. If a grab bar is improperly installed it can be pulled from the wall causing injury.

Places grab bars should be installed:

  • showers
  • near toilets
  • stairs
  • room transitions

Home Entry

Access to the main level without the use of stairs is a change you can make to your home without changing the overall curb appeal. This requires planning ahead. A ramp can be designed with wood or concrete that provides a gradual incline to the front door. By planning ahead, you can have a contractor design a ramp that fits the aesthetic of your home without reducing its value. This provides accessibility for wheelchairs, walkers and those who cannot use stairs.

Making Doorways Wider

Increasing the width of doorways is a simple way to make living at home easier with walkers or wheelchairs. Widening a doorway is a project that should only take a contractor about a day. Making a door 36 inches wide as opposed to the normal 24″ or 32″ allows for easier access, especially in tight spaces.

Floorplan Alterations

Creating room for maneuvering is important. There may be times that you need space to use a wheelchair. A wheelchair requires a square five feet to move freely. Creating an open floor plan is a good way to open space to move around. This can be done by removing full and pony walls, creating cased openings, and relocating furniture and appliances to make sure paths are wide and clear.

When aging in your home you may need to restrict living to a single floor to accommodate for the difficulty of climbing and descending stairs. It is important to ensure that there is a kitchen, bathroom and a space for a bedroom on the main level of your home. If there is not a full bathroom on the ground floor, a contractor can create a full bathroom by adding a shower to an existing half bath or creating a new bathroom entirely. According to HomeAdvisor, a laundry room on the main level may even increase the value of your home.

Removing Thresholds

Removing floor thresholds between rooms can prevent tripping, which is the number one cause of injury for aging individuals. Many homes have a threshold between rooms where flooring changes. This can be alleviated by removing the threshold or installing a ramp that lets them move easily.

Shower Conversion

The bathroom can be a dangerous place due to slippery floors and tripping hazards. Even with the help of grab bars and grippy bath mats, it is important to remove tripping hazards. A popular option is to convert a bathtub into a shower without a threshold. This renovation can allow for ease of access especially for those in a wheelchair.