If you’re planning to age in place, it’s usually because your home is the one spot you love the most. And if you’re aging in place already, you probably feel happy in your home just the way it is. However, there are a few changes you can make to your space so it’s as comfortable, safe and functional as possible for the new stage of life you’re entering. These renovations for aging in place will help you achieve this.
You may have specific needs and preferences that work for you and your lifestyle as you age in place, and designing your home to fit them is a very personal process. While these renovations work differently for everyone, you can figure out which accommodations you really need to make your home, and your life overall, much easier.
From little alterations to larger projects, there are so many ways to make aging in place the fulfilling experience it’s meant to be.
1. Raise the Outlets and Lower the Switches
Bending over to reach electrical outlets near ground level and stretching up for light switches can be a bit of a challenge, especially if you have difficulty with back pain or movement or you use a mobility aid.
Instead, light switches and outlets that are accessible from a seated position can make life much easier for those who use wheelchairs or tend to remain seated more often. In most homes, there’s no height requirement for switches and outlets, so you can tailor them to your needs.
2. Walk-In Showers
To make a bathroom function with ease, requiring as little effort as possible to accomplish your routine is ideal. By replacing bathtubs with walk-in showers, you eliminate the need to step over things and make the space much easier to walk in and out of. Features like detachable showerheads, shower seating and chairs can make showering an easy process for those aging in place.
For those who use mobility aids — or simply have a difficult time with stairs and steps — adding ramps throughout the home can make moving around much easier, especially if your home currently has frequent steps or elevation changes throughout the house. You can even use ramps in your entryways and outdoor spaces to make the whole property accessible.
4. Wider Doorways
If you use mobility aids like canes, walkers and wheelchairs to get around, narrow doorways might get in your way from time to time. If you’re looking into making some larger renovations, widening your doorways could be worth your while. This way, you can navigate your home with ease as you use your mobility aids.
If you see yourself using your mobility aids more in the future, widening your doorways now could help you ease into the transition more smoothly.
While handrails are a great idea in almost any home, they can be especially important for those planning to age in place. Adding rails on either side of the stairways in your home is a given, but you can also consider other places that handrails might be useful. Adding railings in the kitchen, the bathroom or even the bedroom could offer a bit of extra ease and support in all of your daily tasks.
6. Accessible Storage
Storage solutions are important in every home. However, when you’re planning to age in place, your storage fixtures might be a bit different from the ones you’ve known in the past.
When you consider your storage, accessibility should be one of the top priorities. Pull-out drawers, pull-down cabinets and fixtures that allow you to reach items at your own convenience are great for ease and accessibility.
7. Door Handles
If gripping objects is starting to become a bit more difficult, replacing door knobs with door handles can be an easy switch that makes a huge difference. Door handles are much easier to grip and leverage effectively, and making the switch throughout your house can take less than a day.
Renovations for Aging in Place Comfortably and Easily
While many different factors can play into the changes you make in your home — from budgeting for your renovations to the specific needs and preferences you have for your own comfort — you can find solutions to make your house comfortable and accessible for you to age in place. All you have to do is think through what you need.
Evelyn Long is the editor-in-chief of Renovated, a home improvement publisher with advice on gardening, decor and DIY projects.