Remodeling fixes to accommodate seniors’ changing needs.
Today’s older adults are healthier and more active than previous generations. Still, mobility, falls and vision issues can become concerns as we age. If you’re one of the millions of adults planning to age at home, making some home modifications is a smart investment for your future comfort and safety.
Aging-friendly home modifications range from small and inexpensive updates that you can do on your own to more costly renovations. But even the most costly renovations can be more affordable than the expense of an assisted living facility. Agingcare.com recommends people start making plans for home modifications in their 50s and 60s while they are doing routine home improvements and repairs. Doing so can help you save money in the long run.
What worked for you at 60 might pose problems at 70, 80, or beyond. Here’s a room-by-room list of some of the most common remodeling fixes made to accommodate seniors’ changing needs:
- Remove loose area rugs and anything that makes the floor uneven—both are tripping hazards.
- Run electrical cords (another tripping hazard) along the wall.
- Install textured, nonslip flooring.
- Widen doors and hallways to 36 inches for wheelchair accessibility. This will also if using a walker.
- Install bright lighting throughout the house.
- Replace light switch cover plates with illuminated ones.
Install lever-style doorknobs; they are easier to grip than round doorknobs.
- Create at least one step-free entrance to your home.
- Install handrails along both sides of stairways.
- Move the master bedroom and bathroom to the first level of the house.
- If stairs can’t be avoided, electric chair lifts are another option.
- Install lower shelves so there is no need for a step stool or chair to reach things.
- Place heavy items within easy reach.
- Keep a stool nearby to sit on when completing tasks.
- Lower kitchen counter height.
- Install safety grab bars near the tub, shower, and toilet.
- Make sure the shower has a nonslip floor.
- Consider a walk-in shower that is accessible when using a walker.
- Replace toilets with comfort-height toilets.
- Place a light within easy reach of the bed.
- Install sensor lights that go on automatically when getting out of bed.
- Remove clutter for a clear path to the bathroom.
For more information
- The Lifetime Home is an interactive tool developed by the Fall Prevention Center of Excellence at the University of Southern California. It allows you explore the home room by room, view photos from actual homes that demonstrate how design and product changes can support independent living, and view resources for more information on fall prevention and home modification.
- The National Association of Home Builders certifies aging in place specialists trained in designing aesthetically enriching, aging-friendly living environments. View their comprehensive Aging in Place Remodeling Checklist.
- RetirementLiving breaks down estimated costs for the most common aging in place home renovations in The Costs of Aging in Place Remodeling.