Guest post today from Harry Cline. Thank you, Harry, for sharing your insights with us.
Most seniors want to age in place, but few of them live in homes suited to the needs of aging owners. Living in a home that doesn’t meet your needs is more than an inconvenience — it can also put your health and safety at risk. For healthy aging at home, here’s what you need to consider.
If you plan to age in place, you have a few options. You can modify your current home to be more accessible, purchase a new home to modify, or search for accessible homes for sale. If you’re hoping to buy a fully adapted home, know that they’re rare. However, if you know which features to look for, purchasing a new home can minimize the time and money spent on remodeling projects.
Here are the features that make a home well-suited to accessibility modifications:
- Step-free entry: Stairs leading into the home are a major trip and fall hazard, especially when you’re carrying groceries or other items that block your view and disrupt your balance. The ideal home should have at least one step-free entry.
- Single-story living: According to home elevator company Nationwide Lifts, most home elevators cost between $20,000 and $35,000. That’s no small expense! Most seniors are better off purchasing a single-story home so stairs are a non-issue.
- Open floor plan: Open floor plans create open lines of sight, which allows a spouse or caregiver to immediately notice and react to accidents and emergencies. Open floor plans are also easier for wheelchair users to navigate and lend themselves better to home modifications than closed floor plans.
- Wide doorways and hallways: A growing proportion of seniors rely on mobility aids like walkers, wheelchairs, and scooters. However, maneuvering mobility devices through standard doorways poses a challenge. For a more accessible home, look for doorways and hallways that are at least 32 inches wide.
If you’re planning on staying in your current home but it doesn’t include these features, you may want to reconsider. The costs of home modifications add up quickly, especially when a home has little accessibility to begin with. And the costs go beyond the monetary: Living in a home that’s under construction for months on end is stressful, and could take a toll on your mental well-being. Buying a home that already has some accessibility features and can easily be modified further is often the simpler choice.
Assuming your home has the bare-bones accessibility features outlined above, here are the major remodeling projects you’ll need to budget for in order to safely age in place:
- Bathroom remodeling: For seniors, the bathroom is the most dangerous in the room in the house. Protect against falls in the bathroom by installing grab bars at the toilet and shower, raising the toilet height, swapping the tub with a walk-in shower, and replacing the slick tile with slip-free flooring.
- In Melbourne, the average cost to remodel a bathroom is $6,666 – $9,500.
- Kitchen remodeling: A healthy diet is more important in old age than ever, but nutritious meals are hard to prepare in a kitchen that isn’t user-friendly. Pull-out drawers offer convenience over traditional cabinet shelving, while D-shaped cabinet hardware is easier for arthritic hands to use. Adjustable height counters keep workspaces convenient for wheelchair users and standing cooks alike.
- Lighting improvements: Vision changes with age, and seniors require two to three times as much light as younger adults in order to see clearly. For a safer home living, update lighting fixtures to designs that offer bright and even lighting. The Spruce offers further insight into the lighting needs of aging eyes.
Aging in place safely is only possible if you plan for it. For most seniors, that means purchasing a new home and making adaptations to create a house that’s as safe, comfortable, and user-friendly as possible. For help finding suitable homes in your neighborhood of choice, reach out to a local agent.
Harry Cline | firstname.lastname@example.org
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