There are a variety of remodeling opportunities for aging in place, as most homes are not set up well for living independently as we grow older. To age in place successfully, your home needs to align with your physical and mental capabilities in order to be safe.
Here are 5 helpful home features to incorporate into your home as you prepare for aging in place:
1. Entry level bedroom and bathroom access. Growing older can come with it’s fair share of physical challenges, so the potential for engaging in your daily activities (i.e. sleeping, eating and bathing) on the entry level of your home will be very important.
2. Wheelchair accessible kitchen. By lowering wall and floor cabinets or installing pullout shelves, you’ll have visibility and easier access to their contents. Also, having an open space beneath the stove top and sink will allow you to access these amenities without a wide gap.
3. Raised toilet seats. If the height of your toilet poses a challenge when you’re trying to get up, consider a raised toilet seat (aka riser or lifter). Risers adds 3″- 5″ to the height of your toilet seat and make it easier for you to sit down on and get up from the toilet. You may never realize how important those extra inches are until you are in need of assistance because of a disability or temporary injury.
4. Door handles, not knobs. By replacing door knobs with lever door handles you’ll no longer need to turn a knob to unlatch a door. Instead, you’ll simply apply downward pressure on the lever door handle to unlatch the door with ease.
5. Extra wide doorways/hallways. For wheelchair access, there needs to be at least 2′ on each side of your wheelchair or walker (when centered in the doorway or hallway) for you to be able to turn around. When reviewing wheelchair dimensions, be sure to take the wheels into consideration as many wheelchair specifications reference the width of the wheelchair’s seat and not the entire chair.
Before making any changes to your home, you might find it helpful to have an aging-in-place audit performed by a Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist. This person has the knowledge and expertise to assess the unique needs of an older adult population and make recommendations about appropriate aging-in-place home modifications.
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