As you or a loved one get older, challenges with mobility are bound to happen. When this occurs, you are faced with a decision – do you sell your home and move somewhere safer or do you adapt your home for aging in place?
Adapting your home to accommodate these transitions in your physical health, on the outside, seems like quite the undertaking, but it can actually be more beneficial for seniors to remain at home. Living at home means more independence and freedom compared to living in an assisted living facility.
Aging in place is less stressful since there is no moving to a new environment, and it can be much more cost-effective than entering assisted living care. Many assisted living facilities can cost upwards of $5,000 a month and may not be fully covered by insurance.
In this article, we’ll tell you all about aging in place and the four main renovations you can make in your home.
Why Are Modifications Needed for Aging In Place?
As you age, it can become more difficult to navigate the layout of your home. Stairs, narrow doorways, and certain floor surfaces may make it difficult for you to safely get around the house. In order to stay at home, you will want to make some modifications to your house so that it is as safe as possible and so that you can continue living independently.
Bathrooms are one of the most common areas where falls occur in the home. Tubs and showers can be slippery when wet, so it is important to make some modifications to ensure your safety. An easy safety feature you can add is a shower seat. These are relatively inexpensive and easy to install. A shower seat will reduce the likelihood of a fall while you’re standing in the shower for a prolonged period, and it can be used for stability when entering and exiting the shower.
Another easy bathroom modification is a raised toilet. Many homecare supply companies offer free-standing risers for toilet seats. You can also purchase higher toilets to replace your existing toilet if you don’t like the look of having the temporary equipment in place. If you do choose to install a new, higher toilet, consider opting for a bidet. A bidet can be helpful if you have mobility issues or physical impairments that make using the bathroom more difficult.
Finally, consider a wall-mounted sink if you don’t already have one in your bathroom. A wall-mounted sink gives you the freedom to install the sink at a more accessible height when compared to pedestal or drop-in sinks at a standard height.
If you need to use a wheelchair to get around your home, you may find it difficult to maneuver through standard doorways. You might consider a renovation project to widen the doorways in your home to greater than 32 inches.
This is a project that is best done with the help of a licensed contractor. You’ll need to ensure that wider doorways will be supported by your home’s structure, and the project will involve a lot of labor for insulation, drywall, and paint. It may also be necessary to move outlets or light switches, and that should be done by an electrical professional.
In addition to widening doorways, you may find it easier to move around your home with mobility aids with a different style of door. French doors, sliding doors, and pocket doors all have wider doorways and can be easier to open and close.
Grab Bars & Handrails
Stairs are one of the leading reasons seniors choose to sell their homes instead of aging in place. For a senior citizen, even a minor fall could result in broken bones and a long recovery. Installing sturdy handrails can be a cost-effective way to increase the safety of the stairs in your home. You can have quality handrails installed in your home for less than a few hundred dollars.
You can also install grab bars in your bathroom to help prevent falls in the tub or shower. These smaller handrails can also be placed throughout the home to aid mobility. Pricing for grab bars depends on the material you choose. Plastic bars are relatively inexpensive but may stick out in your home décor. Wood or metal rails may be a little more expensive but have a much more attractive look.
One of the larger issues you may have to address with aging in place is flooring. If you need mobility aids like a wheelchair, walker, or cane, carpeted surfaces may be difficult to navigate and result in a fall. Additionally, having different types of flooring in your house can cause another issue. If you have carpeting in one room and a hard surface in another, you likely have transitions between the two types of flooring. These transitions are also a safety hazard and can cause falls.
Hard surface floors like wood, laminate, vinyl, or linoleum are good choices to reduce safety hazards and increase mobility around your home. Linoleum and vinyl will be the most cost-effective options and may be safer due to their textured surfaces. Hardwoods and laminate are a good option if you are looking to get a return on investment when your home is sold in the future.
The best way to deal with aging-in-place is to get ahead of the issue. Don’t wait before making a plan for how you will adapt your home when you or a loved one begin having mobility issues and need assistance moving around the house. Your plan should start with an open and honest conversation about the issues and how they might progress in the coming years.
If you are unsure of what your needs might be, talk with your doctor or the social work staff at your local medical facility. They are experienced in these situations and may have valuable advice about how you can plan for the future. They may even be able to recommend medical equipment stores or contractors in your area.
Are You Ready for Aging-in-Place Adaptations?
If you’re ready to adapt your home to safely age in place, the experts at NVS Kitchen and Bath are here to help. Call today to speak with our team.