Home Modifications For Aging In Place
Before making any modifications, you’ll need to assess your needs and budget. First, review your home for changes that you’d like to make. Keep both safety and convenience in mind. Some important modifications may include:
- Doorways, entryways, and hallways may need to be adjusted to accommodate wheelchairs or walkers.
- Seamless entryways will prevent tripping. Eliminate any other tripping hazards you find.
- Entryways should also have a place to put your packages so you can unlock your door. Consider covering them to prevent getting wet in rainy or snowy weather when entering your home.
- Cover stairs with ramps for wheelchair access.
- Non-slip coverings are important for ramps and areas where floors are slippery.
- Replace standard door knobs and faucets with levered options if you have difficulty with wrist mobility.
- You may want to make some adjustments in your kitchen, too, such as pull-down cabinets.
One of the most dangerous places in your home is the bathroom. According to the CDC, 81 percent of injuries in the bathroom were caused by falls, and injuries were 1.5 times more likely for people over age 65. This is one room you should not skimp on upgrading. Depending on your budget, modifications to consider include:
- Install a curbless shower door to prevent tripping.
- Use a non-slip surface for your shower floor. If you are remodeling your shower, you can also install a ledge as a seat for convenience.
- Install a handheld showerhead.
- Replace your current tub with a walk-in bathtub for safety.
- Install grab bars in your shower and tub areas and near the toilet.
- Raise the height of the toilet seat if necessary.
- Install a bathroom heat lamp to keep you warm so you can you take your time exiting the shower or bath.
Convenient Home Technology
Technology can provide a lot of helpful options for seniors. These include:
- Medical alert systems to provide you assistance if you are home alone and get injured. Read about the available systems at Consumer Affairs.
- The Clapper system to turn lights on or off, or internal motion sensor lights to keep you safe in the dark.
- Home monitoring systems, which alert loved ones when you are inactive or need emergency services.
- Digital assistant services that allow you to shop online, adjust your thermostat, or get other services conveniently.
Which of these modifications is critical for you and can fit your budget? AARP has broken down the costs of some of these modifications. You might need funding or a loan to help as well. Paying For Senior Care has a guide that can help you get through financing and budgeting.
Finally, when you are ready to remodel, be sure to hire a contractor who has experience with aging in place modifications.
Downsizing Is Another Option
It may be more cost-effective to downsize. In fact, you may find smaller homes already set up for aging in place. A smaller house will save you money on utilities and taxes, as well as upkeep and maintenance.
Review local house listings to get an idea of what downsizing to a new home will cost compared to making modifications to your current home. For example, the average listing price for a home in Manlius, New York, is $309,450.
Aging in place is a terrific option today for seniors. Home modifications and technology can help you maintain both safety and independence in the home you love. Alternately, downsizing can help you live more affordably and simply. The choice is yours.
This is a guest post by Claire Wentz
Claire Wentz is creator of caringfromafar.com and author of the upcoming book, Caring from Afar: A Comprehensive Guide for Long-Distance Senior Caregivers. Claire is a former home health nurse and recognizes that our aging population means many more people will become senior caregivers over the years. Specifically, she is interested in providing assistance and support to those caregivers who do not live near their loved ones. She hopes her writing will inform them, uplift them, and give them peace of mind when they need it.