How to Make a Home More Accessible for Aging Loved OnesNovember 29, 2017
One of the biggest fears for the elderly is the prospect of losing their independence. For starters, it means they won’t be able to remain in the home they’ve known for so long or at home with their families. An AARP study found that 3 out of 4 adults over 50 want to remain at home as they age. This makes an accessible home a necessity.
Aging “in place” is preferable because it allows people to maintain as much independence as possible, while also allowing them to keep the emotional connection they have established with their home. For families with aging loved ones, helping them age in place and avoid moving to assisted living can be a top priority. This means making updates and additions that make a home more accessible for aging loved ones.
For some families, this may also mean considering a new home with more room. When this is the case, a custom home is a great solution. New construction allows you and your family to build exactly what you need for the present and the future, which means you can also build with accessibility in mind.
Here are a few of the top areas and additions to consider:
Doorways and Hallways
Making sure all doorways and hallways are level with thresholds flush to the floor is a great start. This means less tripping hazards while walking or obstacles when using a walker or wheelchair. Another great idea is to widen doorways so there is plenty of clearance for walkers or wheelchairs.
Updating faucets to work with lever handles or touchless controls is a great way to make the kitchen more accessible. Nonslip flooring, mats, and/or rugs are another good addition that helps prevent falls. Other tips include clearing counter space near appliances and replacing appliances with side-by-side versions to reduce the need to bend over.
Stairs can become a particularly treacherous area for aging loved ones. Start by ensuring there are railings on both sides of the stairs. If the stairs are not easily or safely traversable, installing a chair lift or elevator will make the home safer and more accessible.
One of the easiest ways to increase accessibility in bedrooms is to adjust the bed height to make it easier to get in and out. Adding touch lamps and keeping a phone next to the bed are both great ideas as well.
Bathrooms are another area that can become dangerous for aging loves ones, but there are plenty of tips for age-in-place bathroom design that can help. Installing support bars in the tub and near the toilet and using slip-resistant mats on the floor as well as in the shower/tub can help to reduce the chance of a fall. Updating or building the bathroom to have a curbless, walk-in shower and a walk-in tub also makes it more accessible.
When it comes to garages, one of the best things to do is ensure the doorway has a ramp with handrails on both sides. Outside the garage, ensuring the driveway is paved and all walkways are level reduces potential hazards and increases accessibility.
Updating or building your home to be more accessible for aging loved ones and keeping aging-in-place home design in mind will help them be more comfortable and retain more independence. Oftentimes, these updates or additions also increase the value of your home.
For more tips and updates you can make for a more accessible home, take a look at the infographic below: