Aging in place is a concept that is gaining popularity among older adults who wish to continue living independently in the comfort of their own homes, as they grow older. The idea behind this approach is to create a living environment that is safe, accessible, and adaptable to a senior citizen’s changing needs over time.
The importance of remodeling for aging in place cannot be overstated, as making necessary modifications to a home can take time, planning, and resources. With the rapidly increasing senior population, it is crucial for homeowners to take a proactive approach to addressing their housing needs. In this article, we will give you some ideas to help create an ideal living environment that supports the aging in place journey.
1 – Entryways and exits
To ensure ease of access for individuals with limited mobility, it is important to consider the installation of ramps or level thresholds at the main entryways and exits of the home.
Ramps should be built with a gradual incline, non-slip surface, and handrail installation will provide a secure and comfortable means of entering and exiting the house. Additionally, level thresholds can be installed to eliminate any steps or raised doorways, making it easier for individuals using wheelchairs, walkers, or other mobility aids to navigate the home with minimal effort.
As people age, maneuvering through narrow doorways can become increasingly difficult, especially if using mobility aids like wheelchairs or walkers. Widening doorways is a crucial modification to improve accessibility and ease of movement throughout the house.
2 – Remodel the bathroom
The bathroom can be one of the most dangerous rooms in the home due to the risk of slipping on wet surfaces. To improve safety and support in the bathroom, installing grab bars near the toilet, bathtub, and shower is essential.
These sturdy, wall-mounted bars provide additional support and stability for individuals when transitioning in and out of the tub or shower, as well as when using the toilet. Be sure to choose grab bars with a slip-resistant surface and have them professionally installed to ensure they can support the user’s weight.
Climbing in and out of a traditional bathtub can become challenging as mobility decreases with age. Walk-in tubs feature a watertight door, allowing the user to step directly into the tub, while barrier-free showers have a level or gently sloping floor for easy wheelchair or walker access.
3 – Update the bedroom
An accessible bedroom layout is crucial for promoting safety and independence as one ages in place. Start by decluttering the room and removing any unnecessary furniture or obstacles that may pose tripping hazards.
There should be plenty of space around the bed to accommodate the use of a wheelchair or walker, if necessary. Position the bed near a light switch or provide a bedside lamp for ease of use during nighttime. You should also consider placing frequently used items, such as clothing or personal care products, within easy reach to minimize the need for bending or stretching.
Getting in and out of bed can often cause falls or strained muscles. an adjustable bed allows the user to raise and lower the head and foot sections, making it easier to get out of bed without straining themself. For other bedroom furnishings, such as dressers or wardrobes, opt for designs with adjustable-height shelves or drawers that are easily accessible from a seated position, making it simpler for seniors to access their belongings independently.
4 – Make changes to the kitchen
As people age, they may find it increasingly difficult to reach high countertops and cabinets or bend down to access lower ones. To create a more accessible kitchen environment, consider adjusting the height of countertops and cabinets to better suit the needs of the homeowner.
Lowering countertops or installing pull-out work surfaces can make food preparation tasks more manageable for individuals who use wheelchairs or have difficulty standing for extended periods. Installing pull-down shelves or installing wall-mounted cabinets within reach can improve access to stored items, reducing the need for stretching or bending.
Kitchen appliances can also be modified or replaced to enhance accessibility and ease of use for older adults. Look for appliances with large, easy-to-read controls, and place them at a height that can be comfortably accessed from a seated or standing position.
Wall ovens, for example, can be installed at a more convenient height, while drawer-style dishwashers and microwaves can offer improved access for individuals with limited mobility. Refrigerators with side-by-side doors or bottom freezer compartments can also be more user-friendly, as they allow easier access to both refrigerated and frozen items.
5 – Smart home devices
The integration of voice-activated assistants can greatly contribute to the convenience and safety of aging in place. These smart devices enable older adults to control various aspects of their home environment, like lights, temperature, and appliances, simply by using their voice.
These assistants can provide valuable services such as setting reminders for medications, reading the news, or making phone calls, thereby promoting a more independent and connected lifestyle.
Another useful technological innovation for aging in place is the use of remote-controlled lights and appliances. These devices can be controlled through a smartphone, tablet, or a dedicated remote.
Unfortunately, the house where you lived for decades was not designed for elderly inhabitants. It’s up to us to make sure that the house is modified in a way that makes life easier for our senior loved ones so they can live their best life.