If you asked them, most people over 75 would tell you they’d rather spend their final years at home instead of in an assisted living facility or retirement community.
But that can also mean making modifications to create a safer, more comfortable environment for seniors. If you want to help an older family member stay in their home, consider the suggestions on this aging-in-place remodeling checklist from the National Association of Home Builders:
The exterior of your home
- Have a low maintenance exterior, something like brick or vinyl, which requires less time and cost for upkeep.
- Plant low maintenance plants and shrubs, which not only save on landscaping costs, but are less likely to create hazards in the yard.
- Make sure your deck, patio or balcony surfaces are no more than ½ inch below the interior floor level if made of wood, which can also help prevent tripping for elderly residents who cannot step as high as they used to.
- Aim for living on a single story, with access to a full bath
- The living area, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom should have a 5-foot by 5-foot clearance/turn space
- Hallways should be at least three feet wide (if not more) and well-lit
- Make sure there is an accessible path to the home
- Have at least one covered, no-step entry
- Install a sensor light at an exterior, no-step entry focusing on the front door lock.
- The doorway should have 32 inches of clear width, which means a 36-inch door
- Install non-slip flooring in the foyer
- An entry door should have a sidelight or peep-hole for privacy and safety
- The doorbell should be at an accessible height
- Create a surface to place packages when opening the door
- Flush preferable
- Half-inch exterior beveling, ¼ inch maximum beveling in the interior
- Again, doors should be 32 inches wide, which means a 36-inch door
- Install levered door handles for easy access.
- Have plenty of windows to let in natural light
- Windows should be lower, or at least have a lower sill height, and be made with low-maintenance interior and exterior finishes
- Windows should be easy to operate
- Carports should be covered, and wider than average to make space for van lifts
- Doors may need to be nine feet high to accommodate raised roof vans
- Leave a minimum access of five feet between an accessible van and a car inside a garage
- Install a ramp to the doorway, if needed, and a handrail if there are steps
- Faucets should have hand levers or pedal controls
- Look for pressure balanced faucets with thermostatic or anti-scald controls
In the kitchen
- Counters should be varied/adjustable heights, with upper wall cabinets three inches shorter than conventional height
- Kitchens should include pull-down shelving, glass-front cabinet doors and open shelving to access frequently-used items
- Appliances should have easy-to-read
- Washing machines should be raised 12-15 inches, and load from the front
- Look for a side-swing or wall oven with an electric cook top and level burners
- Have at least one wheelchair maneuverable bath on the main level with a 60-inch turning radius, or an acceptable t-turn space, and 36-inch by 36-inch or 30-inch by 48-inch clear space
- Bracing in bathroom walls to accommodate grab bars that can support up to 300 lbs. around the tub, shower, shower seat and toilet
- Install a fold down seat in the shower
- Bathtubs should be lower, while toilets should be higher
- Install slip resistant flooring in showers, tubs and bathrooms
Ramps, lifts and elevators
- Stairways should have adequate handrails on both sides, proper lighting, and a contrast strip at the top and bottom to increase visibility
- When installing ramps, the slope should be no greater than a one inch rise for every 12 inches in length, with a five-foot landing at the entrance
- A residential elevator or stair lift can allow you to access more than one level of your home.
There’s a reason the typical aging-in-place remodeling checklist includes stair lift installation. They allow people to maintain their independence without having to turn living rooms into bedrooms or expand downstairs bathrooms.
If you’re thinking about aging in place design ideas, Pennsylvania Stairlifts can help. We’re happy to advise you on installing and maintaining your stair lift so that you or your loved one can enjoy your home for as long as possible.