January 14, 2022
Many seniors prefer to live in their comfortable, familiar home as they age. With this can come many physical challenges of moving around the house safely and efficiently.
In order to maintain their quality of life without moving into an assisted living facility or retirement community, there are a few renovations and upgrades we would recommend to support aging in place.
Placing grab bars in bathrooms can help to prevent falls due to slippery floors, tubs, and shower stalls. They can be found in home improvement stores and done yourself, or can be installed professionally.
Additionally, to avoid the risk of falls, install a walk-in tub or curbless shower. These options can include multiple safety features including non-slip flooring, handrails, and anti-scald valves. You can also add a foldable shower seat, allowing for rest when needed.
Most home interior doorways are narrower than 32”, this can be expanded in order to accommodate a wheelchair or other mobility device. This process may entail a contractor replacing an already existing frame, adding in insulation, drywall, and paint, as well as rewiring light switches.
Round door knobs can be difficult to tightly grip and the twisting motion required to use them can be hard for those with arthritis or other motion limiting conditions. Lever-style handles can be easier to grip, function simply by using the weight of your hand, and are an inexpensive do-it-yourself job - or can be done using handyman services.
Linoleum and vinyl flooring can provide more traction than a hard stone floor. The softer material can also be a bit more forgiving in the instance that someone may fall. Bamboo and cork are also popular options that offer traction. High-pile carpeting increases the risk of tripping and makes the movement for those using a walker or cane more difficult. Replacing it with a low-pile option makes rooms more accessible.
If you do not have the budget or the time to replace flooring, it is important to repair any damaged areas of existing flooring including uneven tiles to eliminate trip-and-fall hazards.
Regular kitchen countertops are about 34” high off the floor. Adjusting and installing these to a 30” counter can make them more accessible for those using a scooter or a wheelchair to prepare food or do other tasks.
This can also be a great opportunity to evaluate storage and shelving. It should never cause a strain to use or put away common items used daily. Utilize lazy Susans to stay organized, additional racks for cookware so you don’t have to stack and unstack them, and wall hooks along with slide out shelving that make items easy to reach. Adding recessed lighting will also brighten the workspace and improve the living space.
It may also be beneficial to remove cabinets or install a removable cabinet under the kitchen sink to accommodate those either in wheelchairs or who may need to sit more frequently but still need to work at the sink.
A wheelchair ramp makes the home more accessible to all - even if there is no immediate need for a chair, the ramp makes it easier to get into and out of the home by taking away the climbing and descending of stairs.
In homes with more than one level, a chair lift that attaches to the stairs can help homeowners move between floors without the fear of falling. If you are unable to install a stair lift into your home, keep regular staircases safe by adding bright lighting, solid hand railings on both sides of the steps, and anti-slip strips on the edges of each stair.
With 90% of seniors wanting to live at home for as long as possible, these updates can make aging in place more possible with accessible solutions to keep you and your family safe and independent.
If you have any questions on home projects to make a living space more accessible, contact us!