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Home Modifications for Aging in Place: Tips from Experts

Aging in place is the ability to stay in your home independently and comfortably, irrespective of your age, income, or ability level. With the increasing life expectancy, education level, work opportunities, and decreasing the poverty rate, more people are aging in place.

Residential home modifications to suit the elderly are proliferating. The aging population now wants to stay in their homes, enjoy their memories, and remain in touch with their family and neighbors instead of moving to a long-term care facility.

Some people prefer aging in place because of the high cost of independent or assisted living and retirement communities. Home modifications can support aging in place to save money while making homes more functional and safer.

With the recent improvement in technology and services, it is becoming effortless to achieve home modifications that allow seniors to stay in their homes as they age. Some of these modifications are simple adjustments, while others are large scale projects.

Those involved in the residential remodeling industry are now able to study for the Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) designation which teaches the technical, business management, and customer service skills essential for home modifications to help people desiring to age in place. These trained professionals are:

  • Knowledgeable about building codes and standards
  • Experienced with aging in place home modifications
  • Knowledgeable on popular renovation projects and resources
  • Familiar with the unique needs of the elderly as it concerns mobility

As Paramount Management & Realty explains, home modifications for aging in place aim to renovate, modify, or build functional, safe, and easy-maintenance houses for residents now and in the future, as they age.

Below are some tips on how to modify homes for aging in place.

1. Pay attention to the difficulties and needs of the aging

When you visit a senior’s home, observe how he or she moves around the house, and check all areas he or she is having problems with. When you notice difficulties accessing certain areas, you should consider getting a professional to assess the home.

2. Seek professional assessment

Sometimes you may not notice any area of difficulties if you assess the home by yourself. You may even see some issues, but you don’t know how to go about solving them. This is when you should consult a professional to assess your home.

These experts have prerequisite training, and will perform a “240-point comprehensive home safety assessment.” They will check all the rooms, including bedrooms, bathrooms, laundry room, garage, kitchen, dining, basement, fire safety features, electrical safety, lighting evaluation, and entry areas.

After this assessment, they will make a summary, which includes recommendations for home safety, fall prevention, and home modifications.

3. Declutter the house

Rid the house of unused furniture and items. Clear all the pathways and entry points to prevent tripping. Decluttering the house will give it more floor space.

4. Modify the entry

The doorway should be widened, especially if the occupant makes use of a wheelchair or walker. Widening the doorway also prevents tripping. Create more space in the hallway. Replace the doorknobs with lever handles. If there are stairways at the entry, install sturdy handrails on both sides.

5. Create a no-step entry

Creating a no-step entry into the house is very necessary for those with mobility issues. This will make it easy for a senior to use a wheelchair to get in and out of the house.

6. Install ramps

For elderly people that have mobility issues, the exterior stairs can pose a challenge. Consider installing ramps of correct heights. You can also install indoor ramps for a senior who uses a wheelchair. This will give him or her a smooth transition between surfaces. The ramps can be permanent or temporary, depending on what is needed.

7. Bathroom modifications

Replace the bathtub with a walk-in shower that has a seat or a walk-in tub. If you don’t want to replace the bathtub, you can install a bathtub transfer bench. This will help the aging to enter and exit the bathtub with one leg at a time while sitting on the bench. Make the vanity area accessible. Install safety grab bars in the shower and toilet.

8. Flooring modifications

The type of flooring is critical in the home. Tiles, hardwood, vinyl, and laminate floors may be easier for wheelchair mobility, but they are slippery and can cause falls. Consider covering all slippery floors with low-pile rugs.

9. Kitchen modifications

With age, some appliances will no longer be in the ideal locations. The sinks, countertops, and cabinets may be out of reach. Consider adjusting them so that a senior can reach anything while sitting.

Bottom line

If a senior you love is intending to successfully age in place, home modifications may be necessary to ensure comfort and safety. Consult a professional that will assess your home and make the needed recommendations.

At Senior HomeCare of Tucson, it’s our privilege to help seniors throughout Tucson and the surrounding areas stay in the homes they love and feel most comfortable in by providing the support and care they need to continue to thrive. Contact us at 520-355-4787 to arrange for a free in-home consultation to discuss any of our Tucson senior care services offered throughout the greater metropolitan area.

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