Home improvement can be a challenge for seniors who decide to live at home instead of in an assisted living facility.
Studies show that 90 percent of people over age 65 would prefer to remain at home as long as possible — and 80 percent of older Americans have firm plans to stay put.
How great would it be if all homes could be suitable for anyone, regardless of their age or physical ability? What if someone who wants to live independently — regardless of his or her age or physical ability — could do just that?
It starts with incorporating design principles and products that are adaptable, safe, and easy-to-use. These smartly designed features are attractive, stylish, and come at all price points. They will also help reduce the falls and accidents that are more likely to occur with senior occupants.
Many of these improvements are DIY projects like those below.
- Replace doorknobs with lever-style handles
- Replace knobs on cabinets and drawers with easy-to-grip, D-shaped handles
Stairs and flooring:
- Apply nonslip adhesive strips to uncarpeted stair treads
- Use double-sided tape to secure rugs to the floor
- Install rubber-suction bathmat or nonslip floor strips in the tub or shower
- Install hand-held, adjustable height shower head for easier bathing
Major projects and renovations needed for seniors.
Sometimes, major home improvements are also necessary. Start with a home assessment by an occupational therapist, physical therapist, geriatric care manager or other certified aging-in-place specialist. People with these jobs can recommend proper modifications and remodeling projects for your home.
Here are nine ideas that will make life easier and safer in the kitchen and around the house, but require installations by someone like a skilled relative or friend — or hiring a contractor.
- A wheelchair ramp (at least one step-free entrance into the home?)
- Rocker-style light switches
- Handrails for both sides of a staircase
- Lighting for staircases, hallways and exterior walkways
- Motion-sensing entry lights
- Interior doorways at least 36 inches wide.
- Lower kitchen countertops and light switch height (work surface that can be used while seated).
- Adjustable, pull-down shelving to cabinets (kitchen cabinets and shelves easy to reach).
- Grab bars in bathtub and near toilet.
These upgrades will help keep homes safe for senior occupants well into their golden years.
When safety planning for senior occupants, don’t forget to create an emergency exit plan to help get everyone out of the home safely.
AARP created a HomeFit Guide to help people stay in the homes they love. The guide provides lessons, suggestions. and other practical home improvement solutions.
Find it online at: www.aarp.org/livable