5 Renovation Ideas for People Who Want to Age in Place

Jim GillerPosted by Jim Giller on August 1, 2016

Many Americans want to continue living in their homes as they age. Doing so takes a lot of planning, however, and maybe a few renovations.

If you’re like many older Americans, you want to stay in your home as you age. Avoiding a nursing home or assisted living facility is a goal for many people, but to succeed at this you have to start planning early. One of the most important things to keep in mind is how to set up your home so that you can stay in it for as long as possible. Consider these renovations if you want to age in place.

  1. Widen doorways and halls. Often, this advice is given to people as a way to accommodate wheelchairs. Because of this, a lot of people assume that it’s something they don’t need to worry about until they are in a wheelchair. The truth is that wider doors and halls make it easier for caregivers to walk next to a patient and get equipment in and out of rooms. This means that anyone who is thinking of aging in place should consider having this renovation done in key locations.
  2. Eliminate steps. Falls down stairs are one of the biggest causes of injury among seniors. As you age, walking up and down stairs becomes stressful on hip joints, and is very dangerous for anyone with muscle control issues. Consider how you can change the design of your home in order to avoid walking up and down stairs. This may involve placing a bedroom and bathroom on the ground floor level. Replace outdoor stairs with ramps. Also think about stairs that lead from the garage into the house and any elevated rooms. In some cases, it may be necessary to raise or lower the floors. If you cannot eliminate stairs completely, take steps to install carpeting and ensure that banisters are securely attached to the wall.
  3. Create an apartment. An important part of being able to age in place is being able to have access to home health aides and other help. The ability to provide housing can often be the difference between being able to afford full-time care and selling a house in order to move to an assisted living facility. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be a major construction project. If you can’t convert a basement to create a living space, consider converting a few extra bedrooms in your home. Often a guest room and bathroom can be converted into a small apartment that would appeal to an assistant.
  4. Consider your bathrooms. Bathrooms are other areas in homes that are conducive to accidental falls. Fortunately, there are a number of contractors who understand what goes into bathroom remodels designed to help seniors age in place. Consider tubs and showers that allow you to sit upright, protecting you from falls and allowing you to get out of the tub comfortably. Also, talk to your contractor about ways to create more space in your bathrooms and installing grab bars around tubs and sinks. Finally, consider storage solutions that will give you extra space for medical equipment.
  5. Fix your yard. Many seniors concentrate a lot on updating the interior of their home, but don’t think much about the outside. The truth is that as you age, keeping up with mowing, snow removal, and tree trimming can become a lot more difficult. Deal with this now by removing problematic trees and vegetation and planting shrubs and flowers that require little maintenance.

Planning to age in place is a process that requires you to make changes to the home you love. Keep in mind that some homes just might not be suitable for seniors, however. In some cases, it may be better to move to a new home that has everything you need.