Home remodeling to suit seniors, when planning repairs to your home, you should also pay attention to the age factor.
People are living longer and healthier lives these days, and this is increasingly being considered by home designers and architects.
Most of us would probably prefer to stay in our own homes rather than move to a seniors’ living facility when we reach old age.
Of course, there’s no harm in planning ahead and bringing in changes designed to make your home safer and easier to get around, long before you actually need them.
Then you’ll be all set to carry on enjoying your house when the time comes that you require a bit of extra help to remain independent.
You’ll also find it makes financial sense to start early and think long-term. Each time you need to replace, upgrade or repair something in the house, consider ways to make the change suit your future life as a less mobile person.
For instance, if you need to repave the walkway to your front door, think about how you can take the project one step further.
Maybe the path from your driveway to the front porch ends in a few awkward steps.
You could ask the contractor if it’s possible to grade the walkway, making it slope gently upwards all along its length so that you can get rid of the steps.
If you have to call in a contractor anyway to fix the path, you might only need to spend a little bit of additional cash, or it could even work out at the same cost.
On top of that, your new sloping walk will look like it belongs there, and not like an afterthought.
If you don’t plan ahead in this way, you might end up having to put in an ugly wheelchair ramp instead.
If there are steps or stairs, make sure you have proper railings. Many homes have railings that appear to be just for decoration.
So if you’re planning to have your railings repaired or updated, make sure you get something that’s easy to grab hold of and sturdy enough to support your weight.
It also has to be long enough that you can get a good grip on it before stepping up or down.
A lot of railings just aren’t up to scratch and could be dangerous if you were to lose your hold and fall.
So if yours is less than adequate, you should really replace it now, no matter how easy it is for you to get around.
Here are some common questions and answers about how you can upgrade the access in and around your home:
Q: If nobody in the family uses a wheelchair, is there any point in making your house wheelchair accessible?
A: By getting rid of steps you make it easier for everyone to get around, not just those in wheelchairs.
Now you can wheel your suitcases all the way from the car into your bedroom.
When the grandchildren come to visit, you can take the stroller straight from the front porch, down the ramp or path, and out onto the street.
And you can save yourself a lot of time and bother – not to mention the health benefits – if you unload your shopping bags from the car onto a small cart and then wheel them directly into the house.
Anything with wheels on it can go from indoors to outdoors without a problem!
Q: What can you do if your house has a lot of steps? You can’t really pull the whole place down and start over, so what’s the solution?
A: A lot of people live in two-story homes, and then they start finding it hard to negotiate the stairs as they get older.
If possible, try to rearrange the rooms so you can live on just one floor, even if it’s just a temporary measure while you recover from an illness or fall, for example.
Perhaps this will entail moving the laundry from the basement to an alcove or closet close to the kitchen.
If the kids have left home you might be able to downsize to a compact washer and dryer to save space.
If your bedroom is upstairs, see if you can relocate it to the dining room or another room on the ground floor.
One way to create extra space while ensuring privacy if you end up sleeping in a downstairs room such as a partitioned-off section of the living room, is to install pocket doors.
These are doors that open by sliding into a recessed space in the wall and can give you an additional 10 square feet of usable floor space.
If you only have a half bath downstairs, maybe it’s big enough to add a shower so you don’t have to go upstairs every day.
A shower occupies much less square footage than a bathtub and is easier to get in and out of.
This is something you can do a long time in advance of your “old age” so that it’s ready when you need it.
Q: If you live in a single-level house with no steps even at the front, what measures can you take to make it easier to stay there well into your twilight years?
A: Take a look at your hallways and floor coverings – these are other common obstacles for people with decreased mobility.
It’s common for older houses to have narrow halls, and for many people, they’re cluttered with furniture and other stuff they’ve collected over the years.
A crowded hall is always a challenge if you use a walker or wheelchair, or you need someone to lean on to get around.
You also need to watch where you walk, or specifically, what you walk on.
Deep carpeting is hard to cross and can trip you up if you’re not too steady on your feet.
Slippery floors are a definite no-no, especially when they’re topped by throw rugs that slip and slide.
Many people, and not just the elderly, injure themselves by tripping and falling, so make sure your floors are safe.