According to a 2018 AARP report, 76% of Americans ages 50 and older say they prefer to remain in their current residence and 77% would like to live in their community as long as possible. In order to make this wish a reality, homes must be designed with age-in-place features to help older homeowners stay comfortable and independent in their own homes for as long as possible.
Here are some of the top features to include for aging in place:
Your home should be designed in a way that even as you get older, you’ll still be able to navigate the entirety of the house, or at least the areas you use most often.
The simplest way to do this would be to choose a one-level house with an open concept. If you do have a house with more than one floor, try moving everything to the main floor. That way it is much more accommodating to get to your everyday needs as you grow in age. If you’re looking to move, keeping an eye out for a first-floor master bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom should be top priority.
If you regularly need to access the second floor of your home, we recommend a motorized stairlift. Some homeowners are even installing elevators in their homes.
Build wide doorways (36”) and halls to accommodate wheelchairs or other walking aids. The home should have a level walking surface. This means no areas that you have to step into and no tripping hazards like thick throw rugs.
Doorknobs should be replaced with easier-to-grasp levers, and lighting should be ample to accommodate failing vision.
Smart home features are also great for aging homeowners! Any process that can be automated or controlled by the push of a button will save a mobility-challenged homeowner from straining or possibly injuring themselves.
Your bed and bedroom furniture should be low and easy to access. Install handrails near the bed. In the closet, install lighting and pull-down rods.
Bathrooms can be dangerous for elderly homeowners. Avoid step-in tubs and opt for a shower instead. Install a shower seat and handrails in the shower and near the toilet.
Make sure everything in the kitchen is within reach. Low storage options are preferred rather than storing items in high cabinets. Install chair-height countertops and appliances and touchless faucets. Choose appliances with buttons on the front so you will not have to struggle to reach towards the back.
As you get older, it may become difficult to maintain your outdoor space. Choose low-maintenance plants and install a sprinkler system. It also wouldn’t hurt to ask any younger kids in the neighborhood to help out. They’re great in company, and affordable.
Aging-in-place modifications can be expensive, but there is financial assistance available. Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurances may cover some modifications. You can also check with your local state Aging or Housing agency for assistance.
Aging in place is certainly possible with careful planning and the proper home modifications. If you have more questions and would like to speak with a remodeling expert, please reach out.