These days, the majority of senior citizens (those over the age of 64) are aging in place. Aging in place refers to living in one’s own home as opposed to moving into assisted living or a retirement home. However, successful aging in place means that a senior can remain in his or her own home safely and comfortably— meaning that certain home renovations may have to be made.
Bathroom modifications are the most common home renovations made for seniors. This is because the majority of senior falls occur at home, in the bathroom. The bathroom is slippery, and there are hard surfaces everywhere. Some of the most common bathroom modifications include:
- Walk-in shower or bathtub
- Vinyl floors instead of tile
- Taller toilet
- Slip-resistant strips in the shower/bathtub
- Raised sink
- Grab bars in the shower/bathtub
Another idea is to build on a downstairs bathroom (if there isn’t one already) so there’s no need to keep traveling up and down the stairs. This remodel, however, will cost around $20,000.
Doorways And Door Knobs
Seniors who use wheelchairs may need to widen their doorways if they’re less than 32 inches across. Widening doorways may also require rewiring light switches, so it’s best to hire a contractor for the job. Contractors can also check the structural integrity of the home to confirm that widening doorways is possible.
Door knobs that require a twisting motion can aggravate arthritis, so these round door knobs should be replaced with lever-style door knobs. The same can be said about sink faucets.
It’s obvious that hardwood floors can be a hazard for seniors, but extremely soft flooring can also pose a threat. For example, a high-pile (or thick) carpet can snag on the wheels of walkers and wheelchairs, and it can also be a tripping hazard. Low-pile carpets, vinyl, and linoleum are usually the best options for seniors. Also, try to avoid ceramic tile and laminate flooring, as they can also be too hard.
Countertops in the kitchen may have to be lowered for those in wheelchairs, and so will the sink. On the other hand, seniors who aren’t in wheelchairs may need countertops and the sink raised so they won’t strain their backs. The key is to make day-to-day life safe and comfortable for seniors.
It can also be helpful to invest in smart appliances and other helpful technology that can make life easier. Sometimes seniors (and adults of any age) may forget to turn off the oven or other appliances, so smart appliances that automatically shut off can prevent fires. It’s also important to make sure that smoke detectors are working and to invest in a carbon monoxide detector.
As we age, it can be harder (and more dangerous) to travel up and down stairs, so seniors in multi-story homes may want to consider installing chair lifts or even a residential elevator to make going up and down stairs easier and safer. Another issue can be bed heights and mattresses, so it’s a good idea to invest in a lower bed and firmer mattress. Guardrails may also be necessary to prevent falling out of the bed.
What If You Can’t Afford Renovations?
These renovations can be pricey, so moving into another type of senior living facility may be a better option for some. For seniors who are still independent, a retirement community can be a good option if home renovations are too expensive. On the other hand, seniors who need daily assistance should look into assisted living facilities, such as nursing homes.
Keep in mind that it’s important to research assisted living facilities before committing to one. This is because many assisted living facilities— nursing homes in particular— face several issues, such as poor quality of food, conditions, and even care. Poor-quality nursing homes are more likely to have neglected and even abused patients. Contact Nursing Home LC if you suspect nursing home abuse and/or neglect.
Home renovations can be pretty pricey, which is why many seniors choose to sell their homes and buy smaller homes that may need little to no renovations. Moving into a retirement community is also an option since these duplex- or quadruplex-styled dwellings are built with senior citizens in mind. Just keep in mind that these are the best options for seniors who are still independent. Seniors who need constant care will be safer and more comfortable in high-quality assisted living facilities.