As we age, our needs change, and one of the most significant changes is our living arrangements. Many seniors choose to move to assisted living facilities or nursing homes, but an increasing number of seniors are opting to age in place in the homes they love. Aging in place means living in your own home for as long as possible, comfortably and safely, while you age gracefully.
Modifications, ranging from minor adjustments like altering light switches to significant changes such as building an in-law suite for a caregiver, can make aging in place possible. Planning and identifying the factors influencing independent living and comfort in your home and community is crucial. At Ken Spears Construction, we believe that aging in place should be done in style and comfort.
Here are things to consider for making that happen:
The first step to aging in place is ensuring your home is accessible. At Ken Spears Construction, we offer a range of accessibility solutions that can be tailored to your specific needs. This includes installing wheelchair ramps, grab bars, and handrails, widening doorways, and installing nonslip flooring. You may also need to consider renovating your bathroom to have a walk-in shower or a step-in tub.
Good lighting is essential for seniors, as it can help prevent falls and increase visibility. Installing more lights throughout your home and ensuring adequate lighting in stairways, hallways, and entrances can make a substantial difference. Consider installing motion-activated lights, which can be a convenient and energy-efficient option.
Comfort is critical when aging in place, and there are many ways to ensure your home is comfortable. For instance, consider installing a chair lift to help you navigate stairs safely. Invest in adjustable beds, which can help you get a good night’s sleep. At Ken Spears Construction, we offer a range of comfort solutions that can be customized to your needs and preferences.
Smart Home Technology
Smart home technology can make aging in place more convenient and comfortable. For instance, invest in a smart thermostat, which can be controlled remotely and automatically adjust to your preferred temperature. Consider installing smart lighting, which can be controlled with your voice or smartphone. At Ken Spears Construction, we can help you integrate smart home technology into your existing home or new construction.
Don’t Forget These Universal Design Concepts
Incorporating universal design features in new-home construction and whole-house remodeling is becoming more common. These features accommodate people with limited mobility and make living in a home more accessible.
Here are some popular universal design features when remodeling for aging in place comfortably and stylishly:
- Ensure that the primary bedroom, kitchen, dining area, and main bathroom are on the main floor to avoid stairs.
- Modify entryways to make them transition-less, widen the front doorway and doorways between rooms in the house to 36 inches for wheelchair access, and widen hallways to 36 to 42 inches wide.
- Design your layout and arrange furniture to allow ample floor space for wheelchairs to move.
- Incorporate nonslip floors such as textured tile throughout the house and remove throw rugs.
- Replace standard light switches with rocker switches and lever door handles.
Remodeling Your Kitchen to Age in Place
Include counters that are 30 inches high for someone in a wheelchair or who need to sit, plus 42-inch-high countertops and rounded edges for those who can’t stoop. Consider grab rails along the countertops.
1. Install lower cabinets 6 inches off the floor and upper cabinets 3 inches lower than normal.
2. Use pullout and pull-down shelving systems, large drawers, and open shelving for frequently used items.
3. Use D-shaped handles on cabinets and drawers.
Consider a motorized sink that adjusts to different heights or install one that is shallow and include a hands-free or lever-handle faucet. Allow leg room for wheelchair users.
Install wall ovens at an appropriate height with a door that swings sideways and use cooktops with controls at the front and auto-shutoff features. Elevate dishwashers off the floor and use side-by-side refrigerators with large storage spaces and long door handles.
Incorporate natural light with windows and skylights and use ambient and task lighting. Install under-cabinet lights and light switches at entrances and consider motion-activated lights.
Remodeling Your Bathroom to Age in Place
You can make modifications to create an accessible bathroom by remodeling to support aging in place without sacrificing style. Many of these changes are not noticeable but make the bathroom more functional for everyone. Here are some tips to “age-proof” your bathroom:
Install grab bars inside the shower, near the door, and beside the toilet. You can choose ones disguised as towel racks, shower shelves, or even toilet paper holders. They come in different finishes to match your bathroom hardware, and the walls where they’re installed should be reinforced.
Consider a roll-in shower with a collapsible rubber water dam or no threshold. The floor should be appropriately sloped to help water flow toward the drain. The shower should also have a built-in or drop-down seat, water controls that are easy to adjust, an anti-scald mixing device, and a handheld shower extension.
Walk-in tubs are popular but do some research before investing. A slide-in tub, bath chair lift, or frameless shower might be a better choice.
Toilet and Sink
Install a toilet that is a little taller (17 to 19 inches from seat to floor) to make sitting down and standing up easier, especially for wheelchair users. Consider installing one sink low enough for wheelchair users to access, with open space below for their legs and chair. The faucet controls at the sink should be single-handle lever style or touch-free with sensing technology. Contrasting color on the edge of counter materials helps those with visual impairments.
Switches and Handles
Use rocker light switches, lever door handles, and D-shaped drawer and cabinet pulls that are easier to grip than knobs.
Ensure doorways are at least 36 inches wide and swing outward. The bathroom should have enough room for a wheelchair’s turning radius or a T-turn.
Add additional lighting, including a light inside the shower and motion-sensor lights that turn on when you enter the bathroom.
Choose a nonslip floor covering that suits your needs and preferences, such as rubber, linoleum, hardwood, or cork.
Create a Stylish Plan with Ken Spears Construction
Aging in place doesn’t have to mean sacrificing style. There are many ways to incorporate stylish design into your home, from modern furniture to colorful accents. Ken Spears Construction takes pride in being a Certified Aging in Place Specialist, and our team leverages this expertise to design bathrooms that prioritize safety and functionality for the long term.
We integrate universal design principles and recommend products that can adapt to your evolving needs over time, ensuring that your bathroom is always a comfortable and convenient space to use. Everyone should have the opportunity to age gracefully in their own home. With suitable accessibility solutions, lighting, comfort, smart home technology, and stylish design, you can create a home you’ll love to live in for years. Contact us today to learn more about our aging-in-place solutions and to schedule your consultation.