Making Changes Now Can Help You Stay in Your Home Longer Later

With more than 40 percent of the U.S. population aged 45 or older, planning toward the later years of life has become more prevalent in many facets of life. One place where it has become a hot trend is in home improvement and home remodeling. More and more homeowners are incorporating aging in place modifications into their home remodeling projects. Some are planning for their own future, some are anticipating caring for an older relative in their home, and some are simply making the modifications to increase the resale value of their home.

Many older adults are forced to enter nursing homes because they can no longer remain safely in their own home, not because they have significant health issues. Aging in place remodeling involves making changes or modifications to your home that will allow you to live as long as possible in your home and maintain your independence while ensuring your safety. This may involve small changes like installing grab bars in the bathroom or it may require major renovations like adding a bedroom or bathroom on the main level of your home. Planning ahead and making these changes before you actually need them allows you time to be thorough and ensure that the changes blend seamlessly into your home design.

If you’re already in a situation where accommodations are needed, there are some changes you can make yourself that are easy and inexpensive that can make a big difference, including:

  • Replace door knobs with levers
  • Remove any loose rugs or mats
  • Replace traditional light switches with rocker switches and use lighted switch plates
  • Increase overall lighting and consider adding automatic lighting
  • Install rails on both sides of stairs
  • Install motion sensing lights down the stairs and in hallways
  • Add additional phones in the bathroom and bedroom
  • Add risers to the bed to make it an easier height to get in and out of
  • Install lever handles on faucets in the bathroom and kitchen
  • Install grab bars in shower and tub
  • Install a hand shower or adjustable shower head
  • Add a shower seat
  • Install a raised toilet seat
  • Install bathroom doors so that they open out rather than in and be sure they can be unlocked from the outside
  • Install pullout shelves in lower cabinets and pull down shelves in upper cabinets
  • Install D-shaped pulls on cabinets and drawers

Some changes needed to enable you to remain in your house are major renovations. Making these changes now will ensure that the house is ready when you need the accommodations. Even if that time is decades away, if you’re going to remodel your house, it’s the perfect time to think ahead and include some features that will ensure you can enjoy your house for years to come.

  • Widen doorways to accommodate walkers
  • Include at least one bathroom on the main floor and a bedroom if possible
  • Install non-slip flooring or low pile carpet
  • Install outlets at a height that is easily accessible
  • Install closet systems with adjustable shelves
  • Install lower kitchen cabinets that you can sit at while cooking
  • Install multilevel countertops in the kitchen
  • Use rounded edges on the counters
  • Install an adjustable height sink or a roll-under sink in the kitchen
  • Install a pullout sprayer on the sink
  • Install a pot filler over the cooktop for easy pot filling
  • Mount upper cabinets at a lower height than standard
  • Add task light and under cabinet lighting
  • Install a walk-in tub or curbless shower in the bathroom
  • Install anti-scald devices on all the faucets and the shower
  • Add a light in the shower
  • Install a wall-mount bathroom sink or one that can accommodate a wheelchair

Don’t forget about appliances. When selecting appliances, look for ones with features that will provide easy accessibility. Some to consider include:

  • A side-by-side refrigerator/freezer for easy access to both compartments
  • A cooktop with front-mounted controls
  • Wall ovens
  • An oven with a sideswing door
  • A drawer microwave oven
  • An elevated dishwasher
  • A front-load washing machine and dryer with a pedestal

When included as part of a remodeling project, it is possible to make the necessary changes to make your home accessible and safe without making it look like a hospital or nursing home. Even if you don’t anticipate needing these features, having them in place may be a selling point for prospective buyers.