There is a lot of talk about “aging in place” these days, and we recently discussed this very topic on our radio show, The Home Improvement Show. In this blog post, we are going to expand upon this topic and discuss some home improvement ideas that can help your home grow alongside you and your family, ensuring you will never have to leave your humble abode – and all of the memories you created there.
When we think of our home, it isn’t the walls or the paint that comes to mind – it is the memories that we created underneath the roof that stay with us as the years roll by. It is those same memories that turn a simple house into a loving home. As we age and grow, we create more of those memories, and our homes begin to become something more – almost like an old friend – or in some cases, a family member. Because of this relationship, it can be hard to leave your “old friend” behind when it no longer fits your needs or lifestyle. But what if you never needed to leave the place where you made so many of those memories?
Just like you, your house can grow and change as well – and, if planned properly, your house can grow even better with age. All it takes is a little tender loving care, and a solid home improvement plan.
What is Aging In Place All About?
As we get older, our needs change. Maybe it is harder to climb up the stairs we used to bound up as a teenager, or perhaps you find your balance is not what it used to be. It’s OK – aging is part of life. It is only when we fail to accommodate for these issues that problems begin to arise. That is what “aging in place” is all about.
Of course, it could also be the case that you have an elderly loved one or family member that you want to begin caring for. Whatever your scenario, a few home improvements can really help change your home to a friendly abode for elderly or disabled loved ones. Why move to a whole new home when the one you live in can be adapted to fit your needs – usually for a fraction of the price and effort involved with moving!
Simple Home Remodeling Tips for Aging In Place
Here are some simple, yet effective tips to help make your home safe and “user-friendly” no matter the age or ability of your family members.
Add Lighting Fixtures to Increase Visibility
Aging in place is all about safety, and one contributing factor to safety concerns is poor visibility. Tripping over clutter can lead to a nasty spill – something we always want to avoid. One way we can do so is to add lighting to areas such as hallways, closets, underneath kitchen cabinets – anywhere that someone might access that is currently in a poorly lit area. Consider using soft light bulbs that can blind or impede vision and are harsh on the eyes. Soft lighting is also a great way to make a room seem warm and more inviting!
Coat Your Shower or Bathtub with Anti-Slip Coating
Another potential hazard is the bathroom. Floors can easily become slippery – especially with tiled showers and even in bathtubs. Applying a layer of anti-slip coating, some handrails or “grab bars,” and even slip-resistant mats can go a long way toward preventing a life-altering fall.
Change Cabinet Hardware and Doorknobs
Of course, “aging in place” home remodeling is not only about safety – another big part of this home design process is accessibility. A cheap and relatively easy way to make your home easier to access is to replace the type of door handles and drawer pulls in your home. You would be surprised how much easier a simple “D” styled drawer-pull on a kitchen cabinet is to open. Likewise, lever handles or door-bars make opening doors if you have your hands full or use a walker much easier. Sliding drawers and self-closing drawers are another great kitchen design that not only increase ease of access, but add great functionality as well!
Make Living Areas Wheelchair Accessible
When people think of wheelchair accessibility, handicap ramps and widened doorways typically come to mind. These are definitely great home additions, but don’t forget to make every area – and even appliances – easy for wheelchair bound loved ones to interact with. Consider having a hollow space under kitchen sinks for wheelchairs to have space to fit underneath, and don’t shy away from raising or lowering cabinets, stoves and dishwashers to make them easier to use. For instance, raising the height of your dishwasher a few inches can alleviate a lot of pressure on your back when you are loading and unloading dishes.