As more adults express an interest in aging in place, the need for home modifications increases. Many people live in homes that are not suitable for growing old comfortably, and they are forced to make changes to accommodate their changing needs as they age.
If you are considering the option of aging in place, making changes to your home may seem like a daunting task. However, with the right planning and foresight, you can reasonably adjust your home into a safe and reliable space to grow old in.
In this blog, we provide some tips to help you make the home modifications needed to create a safe and comfortable environment for seniors, making aging in place possible for you or a loved one.
Understanding Aging in Place Home Modifications
Aging in place refers to growing old in the comfort of your own home or community. For many, it is an attractive option because it provides the benefits of familiarity, independence, a sense of security, and emotional well-being. More and more aging adults prefer to stay close to their family members, friends and community, and stay in the home that they are familiar with, as opposed to moving into a retirement home or assisted living facility. Staying in a familiar environment can also help to improve self-esteem and contribute to a higher quality of life.
If you’re one of the many adults who would like to age in place, you may find yourself eventually facing some accommodation challenges in your current home. Luckily, these can typically be fixed with a few modifications. For some, a few small changes are all you need, whereas for others, a full remodel might be considered. Alternatively, you may be looking into buying a new home and would like to keep future accommodations in mind. No matter your situation, there are options available to suit your needs.
While it may seem like a lot of work to make changes to your home, it is worth it to modify your living space to accommodate you as you age so that you can continue to safely and comfortably age in place.
Simple Home Modifications for Aging in Place
If you are not looking to do a full remodel or buy a new house, there are simple and affordable ways to modify your home to create a good environment that is suitable. For example, installing motion-activated lights will help to ensure you don’t trip or fall in the dark in hallways or other places throughout your home. Changing out door handles that you have to turn for level-style handles is a simple way to reduce arthritis-related pain. While a bit pricier, you may want to replace appliances with doors that open in the front and to the side, as opposed to a top-loading washing machine, for instance. Counter heights that have levels to accommodate sitting rather than standing for long periods of time are also incredibly helpful.
Best Age in Place Floor Plans for a Full Remodel
If you’re looking to remodel your home, you should explore floor plan options that promote your lifestyle, including open-concept designs that allow for future accessibility modifications. Open floor plans are more senior-friendly than the alternative. Multiple walls and rooms and long hallways will eventually complicate aging in place, especially if your mobility is challenged because of the multitude of barriers in your home. Additionally, if you’re able to, installing smooth, level flooring can make a big difference in increasing the safety of your home.
If your home has multiple levels, you should consider having everything you need on the main floor in your remodel to avoid needing to frequently go up and down stairs. This might look like turning a room on the main level into your new master bedroom, or making changes to ensure you have a full bathroom on the main level with safety concerns in mind, including non-slip surfaces, support railings, and a shower chair or bench.
Best Aging in Place Home Plans
If you’re looking to purchase a new home, it is worth selecting a home plan that is good for aging in place. Some features to look for in a house plan include single-level homes, bright lighting, door handles and light switches that are twist free and flat for those with arthritis, and, if needed, wheelchair access. It will be helpful to consider adaptable floor plans that will provide what you want in a home for now, and still allow for future accessibility modifications later.
Bathroom Remodel for Aging in Place
Regardless if you’re making small changes, doing a full remodel, or buying a new home, the bathroom is the most important home modification consideration for aging in place. Bathrooms are where most slips and falls occur, especially when they haven’t been remodeled for seniors. Since safety is a main concern when modifying your home to accommodate aging in place, bathroom modifications simply cannot be overlooked.
- When remodeling your bathroom to assist in aging in place, you’ll want to ensure you include these important safety features and designs for accessibility:
- Install grab bars next to the shower and toilet to assist in standing and prevent falls
- Include a shower chair or bench for both safety and comfort when bathing
- Replace sliding doors with walk in access to a bath or shower stall with inexpensive curtains for easier access
- Replace your tub with a walk-in shower with a level entry to prevent falls
- Install non-slip strips on the shower floor to prevent slips and falls
- Switch a low toilet out for a taller one
- Ensure doorways and shower stalls are wide enough to accommodate walkers, wheelchairs and other support items, should they become a health aid
If you’re unable to afford a full remodel, you can add cost-effective non-slip features and install grab bars in your current bathroom to help create a senior-friendly bathroom.
Aging in Place Checklist
It’s important to evaluate your home safety, accessibility, and functionality when deciding to age in place. Some things that you need to consider include:
- Would your hallway and doorway width accommodate a wheelchair if needed?
- Does your home have stairs and is your bedroom on a separate level than the rest of your living space? If it is, are you able to move your bedroom to the main level?
- Do you have the ability to remodel or modify your bathroom with safety in mind?
- Is your bed too low to the ground, and if so, can you modify that?
- Do you have open staircases that are easy to fall down? If you do, can you modify them for safety?
- Do you have the funds available to make the necessary home modifications to support aging in place?
These are just a few of the questions that you need to ask yourself when evaluating your home’s readiness for aging in place.
When it comes time to implement necessary home modifications, it can help to tackle this project one step at a time. You may want to start by switching out your current rugs for non slip options, or you may want to start with decluttering your hallways, and then work your way up to decluttering living spaces, such as getting rid of extra furniture that may prevent you from moving safely and comfortably throughout your home. You could even start by ensuring you can reach the items in your kitchen cabinets by moving everything to lower shelves.
Starting with your home remodel and senior-friendly modifications sooner rather than later will ensure that your home is ready and that you are prepared to comfortably age in place.
Aging in Place
Once you’ve finished remodeling and modifying to accommodate aging in place, there are other steps that you can take to ensure your comfort when growing old in your own home. Utilizing a patient-centered delivery pharmacy is a great solution that assists with aging in place and providing comfort and peace-of-mind. PersonalRX, for example, delivers your monthly supply of medication with personalized, individually packaged medication dose packs and a pre-made list of meds. The comprehensive list of medicine that PersonalRX provides makes it so medicine regimes are clear so doses don’t get mixed up or missed. PersonalRX also provides you with a dedicated Personal Care Provider who is available anytime if there are ever questions or if you need assistance getting your medication reliably.
Modifying your home to accommodate your changing needs as you grow older helps make aging in place possible. There are many different home modifications to consider, including implementing senior-friendly home and floor plans, making safety changes to your bathroom, moving your bedroom to the main level if possible, and more.
Make sure that you follow a checklist of items to evaluate your home modification needs when opting to age in place, and consider starting this task sooner rather than later to set yourself up for success.
With some smart planning and safety considerations in mind, you will be able to turn your home into a safe and comfortable place to happily live out the rest of your life without worries.