Aging in place refers to staying in your home as long as possible. Almost no one wants to move into a nursing home, and sharing a home with an adult child usually isn’t an appealing option either. Many say leaving the home and community they love isn’t what they want. If you’re wondering if aging in place is the right solution for you, there’s good news: a simple home remodel can make it easier to stay in your house longer. Universal Design is a remodeling approach that emphasizes accessibility for all with no sacrifice in style.

It’s All About Accessibility Ask yourself these key questions:

How fast is your health deteriorating? Do you have early signs of a specific illness which could cause you to need different types of alterations than simple physical aging? How long will you make accommodations so that you can live at home even if your health continues to deteriorate?

By asking these questions early, you can ensure that as health problems arise, you still have the means to deal with them at home. Your goal in remodeling your home is to make it as accessible for yourself in the future as it is now.

What Your Home Remodel Project Entails

According to AARP, the majority of older Americans want to stay in their homes permanently and live independently. Explore some these solutions to remodeling your home that will allow you to age in place.

The Floor Plan

To create maneuverability and sightlines throughout the home, consider creating a more open floor plan by removing walls or making large cutouts to link spaces. If wheelchair accessibility is important now or may be in the future, you’ll also want to widen doorways. For a home with more than one level, you might be able to install a chair lift or elevator. Other options to consider are creating a first floor master bathroom and remodeling the kitchen.

First Floor Master Bedroom

Living on just the ground floor of a multi-­level home may also be an option, but it might require reconfiguration and remodeling to provide all the necessary rooms and functions (such as sleeping, eating, bathing and entertaining) on a single floor. Often, borrowing space from an adjoining room or altering the floor plan can create room for the addition of a master bedroom. A first floor master bedroom offers spaciousness, comfort and ease of use. The size of the bedroom should be large enough to provide flexibility for future accommodations such as a specialty bed, wheelchair, or other such needs.

Focus on the Bathroom

Older homeowners experience more problems in the bathroom than in any other room of the house. If you’re only going to complete one major home remodeling project to allow yourself to age in place, the bathroom should receive the most attention.

A popular trend in bathroom remodeling for those looking to age in place includes zero-­threshold showers, which provide accessibility, quality of life, and high style. The size of the shower and custom seating can be tailored to your specific needs and wants. With an endless selection of tiling options, this solution can provide just the right look that fits your style.

Other alterations you may want to include:

A vanity and sink that accommodates under-­counter legroom

Abundant, easy-­to-­reach storage A walk-­in master closet that is large enough for easy circulation and for a central bench A raised toilet seat that is easy to get on and off of

A tub that you can get in and out of without having to step up Shower seating. The shower enclosure should have built-­in seating or be large enough to accommodate a movable shower seat

Grab bars in strategic locations. These can be used as towel racks until they become necessary. Counters that have room for a wheelchair beneath them Faucet handles for both the sink and the shower that are easy to grab and use Non-­slip flooring

Kitchens

Since the kitchen is one of the most important parts of the home, any remodel focusing on aging in place should ensure convenience, efficiency, and safety. The goal is to complement the lifestyle of the homeowner and make everyday living easy.

If you are designing a kitchen around wheelchair accessibility, include countertops and cabinets at lower levels and base cabinets that open to accommodate a wheelchair. Multi-­height countertops are another option. There should be ample space to move around. Make sure all appliances are easy to reach. Appliances as large as microwaves can be placed in special drawers for convenience.

Other considerations include:

Good lighting directed to workspaces Large hardware. Turning knobs can be difficult for some older folks, so replacing cabinet knobs with oversized pulls or D-­ shaped knobs is simple.

Faucets that are easier on the hands, like models with levers or motion sensors

Safe flooring and removal of throw rugs

Older homeowners need not despair at aging in place. In many cases, a custom remodel specific to your needs may be enough to create a safe, convenient environment that you’ll enjoy even if age begins to impose physical limitations. By preparing for these changes before they occur, you can live comfortably in your home for many years to come.

Craig Lord Construction in Moorestown, NJ, has decades of experience helping older individuals and couples stay in their homes through intelligent aging in place remodeling projects. Contact us for a consultation.

Topics: Remodeling, Aging in Place