When making home modifications to age in place, first consider the areas of the home that present the most trouble or concern for you. If you find certain items difficult to use, like turning doorknobs or operating light switches, modify those things first. If there are potential tripping or falling hazards, eliminate them or modify them accordingly. And if you are always struggling to reach the upper shelves in your kitchen, think about a friendlier kitchen design. Taking a proactive approach to modifying the home means that you can age in place independently and safely with confidence.
Bathroom and Kitchen Remodeling That Makes Aging in Place Safe
Here are a few tips for the two most popular rooms in the house:
- Roll-in, barrier-free shower (approximately $3,000 to $5,000) – Trying to get in and out of a tub safely is a huge risk for anyone. This is not the cheapest way for a safe shower, but it’s a popular one.
- Tub cutout (approximately $900) – An installer cuts a U-shaped opening in the tub and seals the opening with a nice closure to create a passageway into the tub that has a 5-inch lip on the bottom. Now all you have to do is walk over the 5 inches instead of the entire height of the tub. The tub cutout also comes with a door if you wish to take a bath.
- Nonslip tiles – There are many variations of tiles that can be used to create a nonslip floor. “Textured” or “skid resistant” is what you need to look for on the box. These tiles can be found most anywhere. Stay away from tiles that are marked “honed” or “polished,” as they will be slippery when wet.
- Raised toilet – I like the “Toilevator,” which raises the entire toilet from the floor. Then there is no need to put a raised toilet seat on top of the toilet that can become loose and slip off.
- Grab bars – Moen and Kohler make great-styled bars that also function as towel bars, soap holders and toilet paper holders. They are manufactured in brushed nickel, chrome and white-coated finishes.
- Side-by-side door refrigerator – Easy to use for all ages and abilities.
- Raise up the dishwasher 5 to 8 inches – Remain more upright and save your back.
- Microwave – Forget over-the-stove models and get a drawer or countertop unit.
- Lighting – Under-cabinet lights make cooking a lot easier by lighting up the workspace.
- Countertops – Use a different color on the edges, so you can see where the counter ends to avoid anything falling off.
Home renovations can be performed because of a need you have now, or to be proactive toward a safe and sound future.
The National Association of Home Builders created an “Aging-in-Place Remodeling Checklist” for the entire house. In it, you will find other renovation ideas to help you create a safer and more enjoyable living environment.