Your Checklist for a Successful Aging in Place Remodel
The comforts of home only increase with age. After decades in the same house, the space is so familiar that it’s hard to imagine living anywhere else. For that reason, it’s totally understandable that many people prefer to remain in their own homes rather than move to a more supported living environment. Luckily, aging-in-place is more feasible than ever. All it takes is planning, preparation, and some adaptation to the existing living space. As long as you make the right adjustments and enhancements, there is no reason someone can’t continue to live comfortably and safely in their own home. Follow this checklist to ensure your remodel addresses everything it needs to.
Ideally, the exterior and landscaping should be as low maintenance as possible, even if someone else is able to attend to the upkeep:
- Use exterior materials like brick or vinyl siding that require little maintenance.
- Plant shrubs and bushes that do not require pruning or excessive watering.
- Ensure that deck or patio surfaces are no more than 1/2 inch below the exterior door to allow for easy transitions between spaces.
Aging in place is much easier when the floor plan eliminates stairs and accommodates mobility assistance equipment:
- Put the primary bedroom on the main floor of the house.
- Install a full bath on the main floor of the house.
- Make sure there is a 5×5 foot clear turn space in all living areas.
- Widen any hallways to at least 36 inches where possible.
- Eliminate any steps or stairways on the main floor.
- Another option for 2 story homes – plan ahead for the possibility of adding a future elevator. The cost of adding an elevator to keep an aging family member in their own environment can easily pay for itself long term when considering the monthly costs of moving to an “assisted living environment”. Look for opportunities to redesign your existing floorplan to possibly remove a downstairs closet or pantry and an upstairs closet if stacked above one another to create a 4’ X 4’ chase for a future elevator or consider a small pop out 2 story room addition at the side of the home nearest to the aging persons existing bedroom. Keeping an aging family member in their own space can be the best thing for them and for their family.
Safely getting in an out of the home is one of the biggest challenges for many people as they age or encounter physical limitations. A few basic upgrades provide much more safety and certainty.
- Create an accessible path of travel into and out of the home.
- Have at least one entry to the home that has no steps.
- Install a door that is at least 36 inches wide to accommodate mobility assistance equipment.
- Lay non-slip flooring in the entryway – this is especially important in climates that receive a lot of rain or snow.
- Evaluate existing exterior door widths for future long term accessibility needs – at least 36” for exterior doors – Thinking ahead of how you may realistically use your home space later on is key.
- Exterior lifts at raised foundation porches are becoming a more cost friendly option for homes that don’t have enough space to install a long concrete type ramped entry.
- Portable folding ramps that are custom sized to an existing front door can be used for wheel chair entry and stored away when not needed are also becoming popular.
- Evaluate handrail heights. Many are not functional or to building code. Well-designed aging in place handrails do not have to look unsightly.
Kitchen and Laundry
An important aspect of aging in place is remaining self-sufficient. Remodeling the kitchen and laundry areas accordingly can certainly increase the feasibility of extended independence:
- Lower the upper-wall cabinetry by at least 3 inches.
- Make accommodations for adjustable-height counter-tops.
- Install pullout shelving and glass-front cabinet doors that streamline storage.
- Install mostly drawers on base cabinets for easier reach if in a wheelchair.
- Put counter space either adjacent to or across from all appliances so that heavy items can be transferred quickly and safely.
- Raise the washing machine and dryer by 12-15 inches to minimize the need to bend over.
- Replace the stove with one that has level burners.
Accessibility and safety are key concerns in the bathroom, but the average space is not very accommodating. An aging in place remodel is especially important in this room:
- Install a wheelchair-accessible bathtub.
- Install a curbless shower w/ a minimum entry of 30” wide.
- Put bracing and grab bars around toilets and tubs.
- Install a fold-down seat in the shower. (preferably a fixed bench with a hand held hand sprayer near the bench for sitting while showering if needed.)
- Placement of shower valve in a location that is easy to reach – possibly on a framed pony wall with easy to reach shampoo niche locations. It’s a fact that as we age, there is a higher percentage of slip and falls in tub/shower areas due to reaching for soap or shower/tub valves.
- Raise the toilet at least 2.5 inches or install an adjustable-height toilet or specially fitted toilet seat.
- Install a roll up vanity – for wheel chair accessibility.
Stairs can be treacherous. If it’s necessary to continue utilizing them, extra precautions are essential.
- Install handrails on both sides of the staircase.
- Color the tops and fronts of the steps differently to create a visual contrast to aid in navigating stairs.
- Consider the investment of a residential elevator of chairlift.
Aging Confidently in Place with Lars Remodeling & Design
Every aging in place remodel is different. The important part is figuring out what works for you and your home. Lars Remodeling & Design is here to help you make those important decisions. Once you know what needs to be done, our dedicated team of expert remodelers include Certified Aging in Place Specialists and can handle every project, inside and out, large or small. It only takes one call to make your home safe and suitable for a lifetime. Contact us today for a free consultation.