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Home Remodeling or Building for Aging in Place

Minimalist bathroom photo in Cedar Rapids

Despite the fact that Baby Boomers drive the home building and remodeling markets, the truth is broken down to one fact:


People want to stay in their homes as long as they are able.


In this article, we’re going to briefly discuss some of the changes you can make to an existing home (or incorporate into a new home) that will reduce the chance of you getting injured at home and lengthen the amount of time you can stay there.


Why aging in place?


There are millions of Americans who want to stay in the home of their choice as they grow older. They may not know it is called “aging in place”, but that is exactly what they desire.


For Baby Boomers, you’re talking about an entire generation that has been independent for many decades. While being able to take advantage of medical advances, they still are looking for ways to maintain that independence for years to come.


And, as time has gone on, our life expectancy has increased ... so retiring at 65 or 70 still can leave a person with 20 or 30 years at home. (Obviously, this depends on their health and situation.)


For that reason, aging in place becomes very important and a central idea they start building their lives around.


To that end, here are a few home remodeling modifications and ideas you can use to keep yourself safe at home and (hopefully) extend the amount of time you can stay there.


Aging in Place remodeling projects


Implement Universal Design


Universal Design is exactly what it sounds like … you build/modify something in a way that anyone, of any age or ability, can use. This is at the heart of the term “acessibility”.


When you create (or, recreate) something in a home, it is done in a way that anyone can use it.


Obviously, most homes were not built with Universal Design. They aren’t made for anyone to use. Rather, we’ve just become accustomed to making ourselves fit the home spaces, rather than the home spaces fit us.


With Universal Design, you can make any home space be something that everyone in your life can take advantage of and enjoy.


Lighting


As we get older, our eyes don’t process light as well as they used to. But, that’s not just for 70-year old people. In our late 30’s to early 40’s our eyes have already begun to change. (Which, is why you see so many middle-aged people with glasses!)


Incorporating light fixtures into your home can help so much.


Specifically, wherever you may be walking in a darker area of your home (hallways, bedrooms, etc.). And, especially, when it may happen at night when it is dark.


Also, adding light to the areas where you work can significantly improve your ability to work (and, reduce accidents), such as:


  • Task lighting in the kitchen
  • Garage lighting
  • Bathroom lighting
  • Laundry areas
  • Sewing or craft areas


Easily accessible bathrooms


The truth is that the idea of aging in place revolves around keeping people healthy and safe. The bathroom is the #1 place where accidents happen.


By improving the bathroom, you significantly reduce the chance that you suffer and accident that can cause you permanent harm and keep you from being at home.


  • No-step (curbless) showers, instead of a tub
  • Grab bars (placed/installed by a knowledgeable installer)
  • Non-slip flooring
  • Sit-down (or roll-under) vanity
  • Adjustable mirrors
  • Proper lighting
  • Comfort-height toilets

All of these go a long way towards making sure you are safe, but also will increase how much you are able to enjoy using the facilities. They all make a big difference!


Changes to the kitchen


The truth is, not all kitchens are created equal. There are many types of configurations, counters, appliances and storage. As we get older, some of these just don’t work for us as well as they used to.


Here are a few tips to help you to design (or remodel) a kitchen to make it easier to use and safer for you and your family.


  • Multi-height countertops (Where you can sit or stand to do your work)
  • Automatic faucets
  • Raised dishwasher (to reduce stooping to fill it)
  • Easy-to-use appliances (dials vs. digital, front controls)
  • More accessible refrigerators & freezers (top/bottom vs. side-by-side) with easy controls and accessories
  • Convenient and accessible storage (including pull-down shelves and storage drawers/cabinets at proper height)


Wider doorways, hallways & entrances


When you widen the entrances to a home, you are essentially making them easier to get into. This is the same for interior doorways and hallways, which help navigating the interior of your home easier.


Coupled with removing steps into your home, you’ve essentially reduced the chances anyone could fall coming into or walking through your home. When you also add into that mix removing any area rugs (or other tripping hazards), a good interior home design and layout of furniture, you have a winning combination for safety and being able to enjoy your home more fully.



Make these changes so your life gets easier


None of these are necessarily difficult home remodeling projects. When you have a contractor who is experienced in aging in place, these will be so much easier for you to implement in your existing or new home.


These are but a few of the upgrades you can make to a home to help ensure your later life is just as fulfilling as the previous years.



Fairbanks Homes as fully certified, licensed and insured contractors who are experienced with home accessibility, aging in place and creating home spaces that work for our clients.


» Contact us today to discuss your home project or, you can call us at (319) 404-0412.