For homeowners steadily approaching the later years of their lives, we have bad news and good news. The bad news is that most houses in America are not developed with the unique needs of the elderly in mind. Therefore, living in your home can get harder as you get older. You may have to manage long stairways, narrow doorways, high threshold showers or bathtubs, doors with difficult knobs, or slippery flooring. However, the good news is that you can correct the design flaws in your home and maintain your independence with aging in place home modifications. What are aging in place home modifications? We’ll define this term for you, provide examples, and list the benefits so that you can see how important aging in place home modifications are.
- What Are Aging in Place Home Modifications?
- Why Are Home Modifications for Seniors Necessary?
- Who Makes Aging in Place Home Modifications?
- What Are Examples of Home Modifications for Aging in Place?
- What Are the Benefits of Making Home Modifications for Elderly People?
- How Can You Accomplish Aging in Place Remodeling?
What Are Aging in Place Home Modifications?
So, what are aging in place home modifications? Aging in place home modifications are physical home design changes that enable the elderly to live comfortably and safely within their current homes.
With aging in place home modifications, many older people can avoid having to move into a new house, an assisted living facility, or the home of a friend or relative. As a result, aging in place home modifications empower the elderly to retain their self-sufficiency and enjoy their own homes as long as they like.
Why Are Home Modifications for Seniors Necessary?
According to the AARP, approximately 90% of seniors intend to continue living in their current homes for the next five to ten years. But, as mentioned, most of the homes these seniors are living in are not cut out to accommodate them as they age. Therefore, many of these homes will require aging in place home modifications. With such modifications, the design of the home will consider the altered needs of its residents.
Without aging in place home modifications, most homes become increasingly hazardous as our bodies and abilities change with age. Basic tasks such as reaching up high, bending down low, stepping over things, going up or down stairs, turning knobs, and gripping small objects gradually become more challenging. What’s more, failing to complete these actions eventually leads to more severe consequences such as serious injuries.
Clearly, aging in place home modifications are crucial to enabling seniors to live comfortably in their own homes for as long as possible. For this reason, home remodeling companies like BenchMark Home Services offer aging in place home modifications.
Who Makes Aging in Place Home Modifications?
Many homes in America require aging in place remodeling in order to safely shelter seniors. However, not everyone is authorized to administer aging in place remodeling. In fact, you should only trust Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS) with the project of incorporating aging in place design into your house.
A CAPS has the proper knowledge and training to determine which aging in place home modifications will be right for you. They have this ability because they acquired their certification from the National Association of Homebuilders. And with it, they are qualified to collaborate with occupational therapists, architects, and interior designers to design and build beautiful, barrier-free living spaces for the elderly.
Consequently, the best people to trust with your aging in place home modifications is a home remodeling company with a CAPS at the helm.
What Are Examples of Home Modifications for Aging in Place?
While some aging in place home modifications should be applied all throughout a home, others are distinct to the various types of rooms. The following lists contain examples of both universal and room-specific aging in place home modifications.
Universal Aging in Place Home Modifications
- Ensure that the first floor has an accessible kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, and bedroom on it
- Enlarge the house as necessary with a room addition in order to generate enough space for the use of wheelchairs or walkers
- Widen doorways or install pocket doors
- Lay slip-resistant flooring
- Replace existing windows or install new ones for security, efficiency, and light
- Install additional lighting and outfit them with motion sensors to contribute to the balance of natural and artificial light
- Cover stairways in carpet and attach handrails to the walls on either side
- Put lever-style handles, D-handles or loop handles on all doors, cabinets, and appliances
- Replace toggle-style light switches with rocker-style light switches
- Put peepholes and deadbolts on exterior doors
- Position grab-bars and handrails strategically around the home
Kitchen Aging in Place Home Modifications
- Amend the kitchen floorplan to create extra room for maneuverability
- Locate the oven, sink, and refrigerator as close to each other as possible
- Produce a seated workspace
- Install slip-resistant flooring appropriate for kitchens like vinyl, wood, or linoleum flooring
- Apply a slip prevention texture to stone or tile flooring
- Paint the walls a different color than the floors and add colored lines to floor transitions to aid depth perception
- Remove any door curbs or install slopes
- Place durable, low maintenance countertops throughout the kitchen
- Lower the countertops or create multi-level countertops
- Outline the countertops with color-coded edges and round out the corners and edges
- Make sure the surface of the countertops isn’t too shiny
- Position grab-bars on the countertops
- Opt for bright, matte-colored cabinets that are easy to see
- Lower upper cabinets by 3”, give each a pull-down shelf, and/or add a pullout step under the lower cabinets
- Equip lower cabinets with pullout shelves
- Install Lazy Susan cabinets wherever possible
- Make appliances easy to reach with an elevated wall oven, an accessible microwave, and an accessible dishwasher
- Insert a pullout counter beneath the oven
- Replace the range with a cooktop with front-mounted controls
- Switch the refrigerator out for a side-by-side refrigerator-freezer unit with long door handles and slide-out shelving
- Put an easily accessible thermostat or window unit in the kitchen for temperature regulation
- Make sure the sink is no more than 6 inches deep
- Install a motorized sink if needed
- Add an anti-scald device, a soap dispensary, and a water filter to the sink
- Change the sink fixtures out for a hands-free or flexible faucet with lever handles
- Position task, track, recessed, or under-cabinet lighting above islands, countertops, and walkways
Bathroom Modifications for Elderly People
- Expand the bathroom to allow for wheelchair or walker clearance
- Widen the bathroom door and put in a pocket door if desired
- Lay non-slip flooring suitable for bathrooms such as textured tile or laminate
- Paint the walls a different color than the floor and outline floor transitions and counter edges with colored lines to assist with depth perception
- Shower and/or Bathtub:
- Install a no-threshold shower
- Put in a walk-in tub
- Insert grab-bars in and around the shower and tub
- Outfit the shower and tub with seating and shelving
- Replace old shower heads with removable and adjustable shower heads
- Switch your standard toilet out for a comfort height toilet
- Place grab-bars and handrails around the toilet
- Install a bidet
- Lower the vanity countertop and sink
- Allow for under-sink clearance
- Change your bathroom mirror out for an angled or pivot mirror
- Put pull-out shelves in the vanity and pull-down shelves in the cabinets and closets
- Put lever-handles on all doors and D-handles or loop handles on all cabinets
- Install more convenient lighting such as motion sensor lights, side mirror lights, and recessed lighting
Living Room Age in Place Home Modifications
- Extend the living area to supply plenty of space for moving around with canes, crutches, walkers, or wheelchairs
- Change the currently flooring out for slip- or trip-resistant flooring such as low pile carpet or hardwood floors
- Install built-ins to safely hold important objects, attractively eliminate clutter, and effectively clear up floor space
- Insert a custom entertainment center for organizing and concealing electronics
- Mount a big screen TV or a projector and screen
- Hang plenty of artificial lighting overhead such as chandeliers, pendant lighting, recessed lighting, and display lighting
- Put up motorized or manual window blinds
- Raise the socket height around the room and throughout the house
- Upgrade your HVAC system if necessary
- Install a fireplace insert or masonry fireplace
Bedroom Aging in Place Modifications
- Install a stairlift if a ground floor master suite is not possible or desirable
- Broaden the bedroom to grant space for maneuvering a wheelchair or walker
- Widen doorways into and inside of the bedroom and put in pocket doors where possible
- Adjust the floorplan of the bedroom to furnish space for medical equipment
- Produce safer bedroom floors by laying hardwood, laminate, carpet, or cork flooring
- Paint the walls a different color than the furniture and floors and place colored lines on floor transitions to aid depth perception
- Mount a TV or digital clock on the wall
- Hang automated or motorized blinds or window coverings
- Craft built-ins with customized features such as a headboard, nightstands, shelving, or even a bed frame to keep essential items within reach
- Create a well-lit, spacious walk-in closet and fill it with custom storage such as built-ins with low shelves to make clothes easier to reach and to prevent clutter in the space
- Affix bed rails to the bed
- Anchor tall furnishings like bookshelves or wardrobes to the wall as necessary
- Achieve the ideal balance and amounts of artificial and natural light with ambient and task lighting installations
Laundry Room Aging in Place Home Modifications
- Build out the laundry room to allow for wheelchair or walker mobility
- Position a front-loading washer and dryer on pedestals to spare you from having to lift laundry or bend over
- Install the proper wiring and outlets for your appliances
- Put in an easy-to-use, large basin sink at the right height with clearance underneath
- Attach a lever-handle or motion sensor faucet to the sink and a large basin
- Hang cabinets or built-ins with roll-out shelves, Lazy Susans, or bins above and around your washer and dryer
- Lay appropriate slip-resistant flooring such as carpet, bamboo, cork, rubber, or vinyl flooring
- Equip the room with a ceiling fan
- Set up a large, sturdy counter space with a soft material on top
- Situate an ironing board that folds down from the wall near the dryer
- Station a light kit with a timer on the outlet where you’ll plug the iron in to automatically turn the iron off after a certain period of time
What Are the Benefits of Making Home Modifications for Elderly People?
1. Heightened Safety
As mentioned, continuing to live in your house as you age can be a real pain, both figuratively and literally. Actions such as moving up and down stairs, using the bathroom, preparing food, even going down the hall or through the doors can not only be taxing, but they can also be treacherous.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that approximately 1 in 4 U.S. residents aged 65 or older fall each year. What’s more, deaths from unintentional injuries are the seventh leading cause of death among older adults, and falls make up the largest percentage of those deaths. Therefore, falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths among the elderly, and the age-adjusted rate of deaths from falls is increasing. Unfortunately, more older people may be falling and injuring themselves because they’re living longer in homes that don’t adapt to their new needs.
Another reason why our homes can become more perilous over time is because our houses are aging as well. Depending on when your house was built, it may contain:
- Lead pipes or old plumbing
- Weak or broken flooring
- Chipping paint or lead paint
- Cracks or holes in the walls
- Pest infestations
All of these issues can jeopardize your health, so they must be addressed as soon as possible. Thankfully, aging in place home modifications provided by professional home remodelers can both correct the design and restore the dependability of your home.
2. Retained Independence
Again, the point of aging in place is being able to keep living in the home you love with the people you love. You want to stay close to friends and family by during this next chapter of life so you can be there for each other. But if your home is inhibiting your self-care, then you can’t stay self-sufficient. You’ll have to relocate so you can receive the help you need.
You might have to move to a different house that takes you farther away from the place you prefer to be. Or, you may have to move into an assisted living facility that prevents you from being with your loved ones as much. Either way, you’ve lost control over certain parts of your life during a time when those parts are particularly precious.
As you can imagine, being in such a predicament is very frustrating. So, how can you impede the loss of independence from happening to you? With aging in place remodeling. Aging in place remodeling makes your house work for you during this stage in your life and the next. By working with a CAPS-certified remodeler now, you can improve your odds for a healthier future and give yourself the best chance at aging well.
3. Added Convenience
Maybe you’re at the point where the effects of aging have caught up to you, but they haven’t overtaken you yet. You know you still have a lot of life left to live, and you’re not slowing down. So, why should you take on the hassle of home remodeling now when the point at which you’ll need aging in place home modification is so far down the road?
It’s great that you still feel strong and energetic. You should definitely make the most of this time while you can. But one of the best ways to do so is to prepare for your future while you’re still in such good shape. Making aging in place home modifications now means that you have the vitality required to get through them and then get back to normal as soon as possible. If you wait until aging has impaired you and your home can no longer sustain you, then you might not have the time or energy to make these modifications. So, by putting them off, you run the risk of missing your chance to conduct aging in place remodeling.
Consequently, if you carry out aging in place remodeling now, the process will be much less overwhelming to you. Also, the need for aging in place home modifications won’t be as urgent, so you can make them at a reasonable pace. You may even have the option to adjust them if you want. Essentially, when you’re prudent about the timing of your aging in place remodeling, applying aging in place home modifications will be much more convenient for you.
4. Enhanced Comfort
You might think your house is perfectly comfortable now. If so, that’s great! But if you’re anywhere close to the later years of your life, then you’ll find that aging in place home modifications will make your life easier both now and later. In fact, many aging in place home modifications are quite pleasant to interact with at any age.
For example, anyone can trip and fall on stairways no matter how old they are. So, covering our stairs with carpet both helps us avoid falling and cushions us in case we do fall. Also, trying to access certain kitchen cupboards can be annoying even when we’re younger if such cupboards are very high or very deep. For this reason, we can appreciate pull-up or pull-down shelves right now. And even if we don’t have much trouble stepping into the shower or tub, a no-threshold shower is a very sleek and stylish bathroom feature that allows us to enjoy a spa-like experience in our own homes.
Clearly, aging in place home modifications simplify our lives no matter when we make them. And if you work with a professional home remodeler to finish aging in place home modifications now, you can live more leisurely for much longer.
5. Extra Personalization
If you built your current home or remodeled it in the past, then hopefully, you’re very happy with its aesthetics. But if you purchased your house and haven’t had the occasion to remodel yet, you might be dealing with interior designs that you don’t care for. In that case, you’ll appreciate the fact that aging in place remodeling affords you the opportunity to change up some of the details of your home so that they better suit your style.
For instance, if you need to install slip-resistant flooring, you can ensure that you like what you lay down. You can also approve the color of new cabinets, the texture of new countertops, the look of additional lighting, the shape of a no-threshold shower, even the finish of new doorknobs. Not every aging in place home modification calls for as much if any design input (e.g., widening doorways, putting the washer and dryer up on pedestals, replacing windows, upgrading your HVAC system). However, many home modifications for elderly people involve an aesthetic decision, so aging in place remodeling permits you to infuse your home with even more personalization.
6. Increased Property Value
Usually, people implement aging in place design with the intent of remaining in their home as long as they remain on this earth. But sometimes, unexpected circumstances compel them to vacate their houses sooner than they would like. If there’s a chance this could happen to you, you might wonder why you would even bother with aging in place remodeling at all. Wouldn’t it just be a waste of time and money?
Definitely not. For as long as you lived in your house, the aging in place home modifications would benefit you. And if for some unfortunate reason, you have to move out and list your house, the aging in place design would benefit the successive occupants of the house as well.
With so many seniors hoping to spend their retirement years at home, any who are looking for a new home in which to do so would be grateful that your house was already prepared for them. Even middle-aged couples could see the advantages of purchasing a home altered to include aging in place design, as it would let them to tend to elderly parents or relatives. Therefore, augmenting your home with aging in place design actually makes it more attractive to potential buyers. And a property that’s more attractive to buyers is more lucrative to the sellers.
How Can You Accomplish Aging in Place Remodeling?
Now that you know what aging in place home modifications are, you can plan to make them in your own home. To start, you can compare your house to the examples of aging in place home modifications listed above to surmise which modifications your home may need.
You may find that some rooms in your house are already more suitable for seniors than others, so your home may not necessitate every aging in place home modification. However, you also may not realize some of the ways in which the design of your home may eventually hinder your lifestyle. Therefore, you should get a second opinion on the matter from a home remodeling company led by a CAPS.
Where can you find such a company? In BenchMark Home Services. Our owner Anne Capozzi of Capozzi Design Build is a CAPS, so we can pinpoint and provide all of the aging in place home modifications your house could ever require. With our aging in place home modifications services, we can guarantee that your home will oblige your physical abilities and express your personal tastes for years to come.
Because BenchMark Home Services is an extension of Capozzi Design Build, each member of our team has over 15 years of experience. We also have an outstanding reputation for excellence, professionalism, and kindness in the industry.
Finally, we’re located in the greater Cleveland area, so our service areas include the following cities and their neighboring northeast Ohio communities:
- Cleveland Heights
- Chagrin Falls
- Shaker Heights
- University Heights
- Moreland Hills
- Boston Heights
- Willoughby Hills
- Hunting Valley
- Gates Mills
- Pepper Pike
With the help of BenchMark Home Services, your dream home can look after you for the rest of your life. As a result, you can successfully age in place. So, contact us today to start your aging in place remodeling!