Is your home aging in place ready? If you’re one of the nearly 34 million people who identify as a baby boomer who’s reached retirement age, this might be something you’ve considered. If not, maybe it should be. A recent AARP study found that nearly 77% of adults 50 and older prefer to remain in their homes for the long term.
There are many benefits to staying in your home as long as possible. In addition to feeling empowered, maintaining your independence and remaining connected to your community, aging in place is also often more affordable. In many cases, the cost of full-time home care (40-45 hours per week) is less than half the cost of a semi-private room in a nursing home or assisted living community.
Aging in place looks different for everyone. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to making it possible for you to remain at home independently. Budgets and fixed incomes vary greatly, impacting your list of potential home modifications. However, that does not need to be a roadblock in your journey toward aging in place. There’s a wide variety of renovations and modifications that can be done to stay within your budget and ensure you can comfortably remain in your home.
Below we’ve provided several tips to help you achieve your goal of aging in place! Make your home as functional and comfortable as possible for yourself and your loved ones, for as long as possible.
Keep Calm and Age-in-Place
Before we delve any deeper into our renovation discussions, it’s worth noting that handling home renovations can be one of the most stressful things someone goes through in their lifetime. The mess, the noise, and the disruption to your daily routines are just a few of the things that make remodeling so stressful. But don’t worry. You’re not alone – undergoing renovations of any size at any age can be frustrating and stressful. While making your home renovations, here are a few tips to help make the process as smooth and stress-free as possible.
Be clear on your budget: Whether you’re making a few minor modifications or major renovations, it’s important to nail down (pun intended) your budget before you get started. Nothing is more stressful than watching your funds dwindle more quickly than expected. Some questions worth considering include:
- How much do you have available in your savings?
- How much will you use through other funding (i.e., credit cards or home equity loans)
Do your research: Resources such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Angi (formerly Angie’s List) can help you find reputable contractors to help you complete your home renovations.
Ask for help: Sometimes larger home renovation projects can feel overwhelming. If needed, reach out to a trusted friend or relative to help you plan, manage and organize your larger home renovation projects.
Maintain Open Communication: Whether it’s with your contractor, caregiver, or companion, clear communication is key. If you have hearing loss that makes it difficult to use the phone, our ClearCaptions Phone can help you make and receive calls. The captioned calls ensure you won’t miss a single detail, and the call logs provide a complete transcript of all your calls.
Take a walk: Your home is your sanctuary, which is why it can be so stressful when it’s in disarray! Reduce your anxiety by planning some time away from your house. This can be in the form of a walk, running errands, or even a staycation at a nearby hotel. Whatever helps you take the occasional break from your home projects!
Maintain your routine: Disruptions to your daily routines can also be very stressful, so try to maintain your regular groove as much as possible.
Stay flexible: There’s no such thing as a perfect renovation. Delays, changes, mishaps and more are all completely normal and should be considered part of the remodeling process. A rigid timeline and unrealistic expectations are sure to cause unnecessary anxiety. On the other hand, flexibility and the understanding that eventually your home renovations will be complete will help make the process much more pleasant!
Ready to renovate? Take a deep breath and relax as we walk you through a checklist of helpful aging in place remodeling tips throughout your home.
Remodeling Tips for Aging in Place
Single story living: due to potential changes in mobility, it’s best to ensure your main living spaces (i.e., kitchen, laundry room, bedroom, full bathroom) are either in a single-story home, or easily accessible on the first floor of your home.
- If possible, eliminate steps and uneven surfaces between rooms, or ensure your main living spaces are on the same level.
Wide open spaces: Widen doorways and hallways to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) minimum of 32″. This will provide enough room for a walker, mobility scooter or wheelchair to pass through comfortably.
- The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) recommends at least 5’ x 5’ space in your living areas, kitchen, and the primary bedroom and bathroom for easy access and turn space.
- Not renovating but rearranging – reconstruction is not required to change the layout of a room. Consider the furniture in your space and how it could be rearranged to allow for more open space and accessibility.
- Remove all potential tripping hazards (clutter, cords, unused furniture) to ensure a safe living environment.
Windows: Ensure all windows are insulated and weather sealed in order to reduce drafts. If needed, update curtains or blinds to be handled easily from a seated position.
Doors: Replace knobs with lever-type handles. These are easier to open for someone with grip issues like arthritis.
Lighting: Install nighttime guide lighting in hallways to ensure safety of movement. It’s also a good idea to install lighting controls that can be easily accessed from a seated position.
Low maintenance landscaping: Plant shrubs, flowers, and other plants that require little care. Consider replanting high maintenance flowerbeds and fast-growing grass with shrubs and plants that require little care.
Clear paths: Clear away any plants and garden decorations from the paths to ensure accessible travel to/from your home.
Visual doorbells and alarms: Consider installing an amplified doorbell or alarm, or ones with flashing lights and ensure they can be seen throughout the home.
Entrances: Ensure decks, patios, porches and other entryways are at least 32” wide for full accessibility. Replace stairs with gently sloping ramps with handrails or guardrails. Ensure all surfaces are non-slip and covered.
Lighting: Ensure there is sensor lighting or pathway lighting for safe nighttime access.
Accessible entrance: If needed, install a ramp with a handrail from the garage into the room.
Carports: Clear space in your garage, or install a covered carport to ensure safe access in all weather. It’s also best to clear at least 5’ aisle access around the car for easy mobility.
Counter height: If needed, you can adjust counter heights to accommodate working from a seated position; the ADA recommends a minimum height of 36”.
Storage: Install or utilize lower storage shelving to prevent falls when reaching for items in a higher place.
Sink: Install safety controls on water heaters in order to prevent scalding. If needed, ensure there is clearance under the counter for a wheelchair.
Stove: Install an electric cooktop with controls on the front or sides. This is often safer than a gas stove or a stove with controls on the back.
Shower: If possible, it’s best to use a bathroom that has a shower only, rather than a shower/bath combo. This is due to ease of access and eliminating large steps in/out of the tub that could cause a fall. Install non-slip flooring for wet areas and add a handrail and seat for safety and comfort.
Space to move: If possible, ensure there’s a 5’ x 5’ space to turn for easy mobility.
Storage: Utilize lower shelves rather than upper cabinets for easier access.
Space to move: Ensure there’s at least a 5’ x 5’ space around the bed for easy mobility.
Beds: Consider lowering your bedframe to ensure easy access in/out of bed. The ADA recommends beds should be no higher than 23” from the floor. You can also consider using an adjustable bed, that can be modified between a flat and reclined position.
Whether you’re making major renovations or minor remodels, the main focus of aging in place remodeling is safety and comfort. At every level of your remodel, even if you’re simply rearranging furniture, it’s important to consider how you’ll be using your space now, and at every stage of life. Most importantly: try to enjoy the remodel process as much as possible!