The reality is, all of us will eventually get older. According to a 2019 Angus Reid survey, 67% of Canadians are concerned about future mobility issues. Sooner or later, our living situations will need to change to accommodate the struggles associated with aging bodies.
Aging in place means the ability to continue to live in your own home comfortably, safely, and independently. Planning to remodel your existing home to allow you to age in place can be a good option to help with mobility issues that may arise with age. It can be hard to plan in advance when you don’t know what the future will hold, so keep reading to learn about the most common renovations that can support the ability to age safely in place in your current home.
Here are 7 of the most common aging-in-place remodeling projects:
1. Maintain the Living Space on the Main Level
It is a good idea to have the living space on the main level to avoid or limit the use of stairs. You should also make sure that the flooring is of the same color to avoid confusion. As we get older our feet tend to shuffle which can result in a fall.
If you can’t have your entire living space on the main floor, consider installing a chair lift that can help you reach the second story if you begin to have difficulty walking up and down the steps.
2. Safer Entrance Area
The entrance area needs proper attention, as the steps in an entryway may pose a risk of tripping or falling. The steps should be at least three feet wide, although a greater width is preferred. There should also be sturdy handrails that are easy to grip.
You can also add a ramp to a home’s entry and exit to avoid using the stairs. Indoors, a threshold ramp near the doorways may also help by forming a seamless surface to transition from one room to another.
3. Install Grab Bars
As we age, the bathroom can become a tricky place. Additional support can prevent falls or injuries. You can install grab bars near the toilet, as well as in the shower area as this area can get slippery.
Depending on your needs, installing a grab bar close to your bed can make it easier to get in and out of the bed safely.
4. Improve Your Lighting
It is essential to make sure that you work on improving the lighting in your home to reduce the risk of falls. This means adding bright lights in the hallway, bathrooms. Using lamps for sitting areas for reading and adhesive LED tap-lights under cabinets to provide extra light on countertops can also help with vision challenges.
5. Flooring Modifications
Pay attention to the flooring in your home to help avoid trips and falls. Make sure that the flooring is even and install consistent flooring throughout the home as much as possible to avoid confusion.
When you are looking for flooring material for a senior’s home, it is important to consider a few factors like comfort, slip resistance and an easy to maintain material.
6. Upgrade to Smart Home Technology
Upgrading to smart home technologies can help you to stay safely and independently in your home. Technologies like a medical alert app or necklace, home security, and remote monitoring or communication systems will ensure assistance in the event of a fall or other emergency.
You can also automate your home to control the lights, entertainment systems, blinds, etc. Apps and other smart home technologies can even help with things such as medication reminders, scheduling medical appointments and more! Technology isn’t just for young people anymore, it can play an important role in allowing older adults to age safely and independently in place.
7. Replace Faucets
It is a good idea to replace the faucets for the kitchen and bathroom sinks. You may not realize the importance of faucet levers until you have to deal with issues such as arthritis.
As we age, changing the sink and shower lever faucet handles to ones that are easier to use can help to make the difference between a difficult task and a pleasant one. Consider installing disc, cartridge or ball faucets as these can be much easier to move if grip strength is a concern.
Is it worth remodeling an old home?
That depends, of course, on the circumstances at play. It’s important to plan for your long-term care needs, what help might be needed day-to-day, and keep your options open.
Aging in place could be a cheaper option and be more comfortable than going the assisted living route, depending on your circumstances.
For an assisted living home, you could be paying monthly rent for the accommodations that could range from $1,453 to $4,500 (and higher) on average. This varies depending on the size and location of the accommodations, the type of community, and the quality and number of amenities included.
In contrast, the national average of remodeling a home for aging in place could be $19,800 or higher depending on the extent, home's size, and quality of materials and appliances. According to CIBC Home Renovations Poll, 49% of Canadians planned to renovate their homes in 2019, budgeting $10,211 on average.
Remodeling is one option that can support the decision to age in place, along with other options such as living with other family members or engaging support from a homecare provider. The decision to age in place is ultimately an individual one based on health, budget and personal preferences. We encourage you to start having conversations with your loved ones before the need to make a decision is imminent to ensure that wherever you choose to live as you age, it meets your needs and ensures your safety and comfort each and every day.