Many Americans of all ages hope to spend their golden years enjoying the same homes where they currently live.
The desire to “age in place” has emerged as one of the most popular reasons for investing in home remodeling projects. According to the National Association of Home Builders, 52% of remodelers get calls for aging-in-place projects either “often” or “very often,” up from just 32% in 2012.
The good news is that there are many ways to improve the comfort, safety, style and value of your home, thanks to the principles of Universal Design. Here are a just a few of the many possibilities.
The National Institute on Aging reports that 80% of falls among older adults happen in the bathroom. Renovations here can reduce the risk and make your bathroom a more relaxing place.
- Install grab bars in high-risk areas like showers, tubs, near toilets and any areas that are prone to slippery floors.
- Allow knee space below sinks and protect pipes with heat-resistant material.
- Make handwashing more convenient with lever-style handles or touchless faucets.
- Consider removable base cabinets and countertops of varying heights.
- Enjoy a better shower with curbless entry, shower seating, adjustable showerheads and lighting.
- Update with elevated or adjustable toilet seats.
A stylish and easy-to-use kitchen lets you continue preparing and enjoying your favorite foods with family and friends, right in the comfort of your own home.
- As with the bathroom, touchless faucets, lever-style handles and anti-scald features make washing hands and dishes a breeze.
- Oven doors that open to the side, and cook tops that can be used while seated or standing make cooking easier and safer.
- Refrigerator and dishwasher drawers offer a nice alternative for keeping everything within reach, as do below-counter cabinets with pull-out drawers.
- Vary the height of countertops to make food prep a little easier.
#3: Hallways, Stairs and Doors
Over 1 million Americans are injured on stairs each year, and 60% of these injuries occur at home. All ages are affected, with small children and older adults at greatest risk, so improvements here can make your home safer for everyone.
- Stairways should have handrails on both sides.
- Color contrast between stair treads improves visibility.
- Make sure your staircase has adequate lighting.
- If your home has two or more stories, stacked closets make it easier to install an elevator shaft at a future date.
#4: Entries and Exteriors
Upgrades to the outside of your home and points of entry can make your house a more welcoming place for residents and guests of all ages and abilities.
- Ramps facilitate entry for wheelchair users and other with limited mobility or balance issues. The slope should be 1” of rise for every 12” inches in length, and you need 5’ of landing space at the entrance.
- Your home should have at least one covered no-step entry with a door at least 36” wide. Other value-enhancing entry improvements include an accessible doorbell, high and low peepholes and adequate lighting.
- Your garage, including the garage door, must be large enough to accommodate lifts or vans, with room for a 5’ aisle between vehicles. If there are steps to the entry door, install a handrail, or replace with a sloped floor or ramp.
- Abundant windows let in lots of natural light for greater comfort and energy efficiency. To make windows more accessible, look for lower sill height, low maintenance finishes and user-friendly open/close features.
#5: Throughout the House
Finally, here are a few additional upgrades for creating a more accessible home environment in every room of your house.
- A user-friendly floor plan includes at least one full bed and bathroom suite on the entry level floor.
- Smart home technology combines traditional home security with emergency and medical alerts and remote monitoring. Special sensors can detect movement throughout the house and even whether a resident remembers to take their medication.
- Programmable thermostats with easy-to-read control panels are best. Accessible filters can boost comfort and energy efficiency.
- Replace traditional door knobs with lever-style handles. Interior doors and hallways should be at least 36” wide.
- Install non-slip flooring or slip-resistant floor coatings in bathrooms and other rooms. Make sure carpets are securely attached and no more than 1” thick.
- Adequate lighting in hallways, bathrooms and other locations reduces the risk of in-home accidents. Rocker or touch-controlled light switches no more than 48” from the floor are easiest to use.
- Electrical outlets should be 15” from the floor and spaced no more than 12’ apart. This allows for easy reach from a seated or standing position.
Are you considering an aging-in-place remodel for your home?
Contact Elite Renovations & Design for a free quote. Our experienced contractors will help you select the best updates to meet your needs — so you can keep enjoying your home for years to come!