Home Modifications for Aging in Place
The first step to do is an assessment of your home and the outside area. Go room by room and look to see what you can improve. Some improvements can be completed now, and some are marked down for improvements in the future. By doing an assessment, you’ll have an idea of what will need to be remodeled for you to age safely at home. Below are some ideas of what might need improving:
- Safety: Is there anything in the room that poses a safety hazard? Are cords exposed so they could be tripped over? Another thing to consider is throw rugs. Throw rugs that aren’t secured to the ground are often tripped over. As most already know, falling when older brings a lot more risk than at any other time in life.
- Accessibility: Can you reach items easily, work switches on walls, unlock doors, open cabinets easily, and access plugs? If tasks need completing, will you be able to do it in this room or will it require some modification?
- Stairs: Stairs are usually a struggle for someone who is a senior, but there are options. An electric stairway chair that glides up the stairway with you sitting on it and then back down is one option. Sturdy handrails and excellent lighting are another for those who can manage stairs safely. Some people decide to put a bedroom on the first floor, as well as a complete bath, so the stairs are avoided altogether. Other seniors move their washer and dryer to space on the first floor, so they go to the basement less often.
- Kitchen: The kitchen is one of the main rooms which usually needs some modification. You may have to install or re-designate lower shelves and cabinets to be more convenient and accessible and easier to open. Rearranging the shelves, so the most frequently used items are located quickly. You may want to take into consideration if the countertops are at a comfortable level and if you can sit down while preparing meals. Ensuring the stove knobs are easy to manipulate and to read and considering the mental state of the occupant and disconnecting gas appliances may be required for safety reasons. Adequate lighting is essential, so you don’t trip over items that may be on the floor.
- Bathroom: The bathroom can be one of the most dangerous places in the home for a senior. You should install grab bars in the shower, above the bathtub, and even around the commode. Make sure the bottom of the tub and the shower floor are rough and not smooth to avoid falls. Bright lighting and non-skid bathroom rugs also help ensure proper visibility and a non-slip surface which is imperative.
Covering the Cost of Modifying the Home
Home modifications could be costly, but there are some places that may help cover the cost of some of them. There are some contractors who will do alterations for the elderly on a sliding scale or a reduced fee depending on how much your income is a month.
You can also take out a second mortgage, reverse mortgage, or use a home equity loan to help with the cost of modifications and home repairs.
If you do decide to do some home modifications, getting several bids from contractors is the smart thing to do. Create a written contract that outlines what material is to be used and when the work is to be done.
Starting early with modifications for aging in place is a smart thing to do for you or a loved one’s future.