Aging in place with the help of home renovations
On average, Baby Boomers are in better physical condition than previous generations. [i] Because of their improved health, it’s possible for many to enjoy aging in place from the comfort of home. A study from AARP found that about 90% of seniors plan to live at home for at least five to ten years after they turn 65. [ii]
However, just because Boomers are in better health doesn’t mean that precautions shouldn’t be taken to ensure their safety. Aging comes with its own set of problems, specifically with mobility and vision. These issues can complicate plans for peacefully aging in place. [iii]
Many people are choosing to optimize independence and take on home remodeling for aging in place. But most homes aren’t built for older occupants, and it’s often necessary to make several adjustments. In 2017, nearly 80% of renovations performed by home remodeling companies were for aging in place. That’s compared to 63% in 2013. [iv]
Aging in place, even with home renovations, is less expensive than living in an assisted living facility. The average cost for a year of aging in place at home (plus remodeling) is $10,000. On the other hand, the average price for one year at an assisted living home is $50,000. [v]
For many seniors, the choice to begin home remodeling for aging in place is an obvious one. If you or a family member is considering taking on some home renovations for aging in place, here are some things you can do to assure safety, security, and comfort.
Grab bars [vi]
Fixing handlebars or railings in bathrooms, bedrooms, or other rooms decreases the risk of falls and improves mobility.
Install bars near the toilet and shower or even by the bed to assist with getting in and out safely. In addition, make sure they can hold up to 250 pounds and screw into wall studs, not just sheetrock.
Depending on where you shop, you can find three grab bars for about $140.
Showers and bathtubs [vii]
A crucial part of aging in place is ensuring safe access to the shower or tub. For those who use a wheelchair or need other accommodations for mobility, low-rise showers with a no-step entry are ideal. At a price of up to $1,000, this renovation can be one of the most expensive changes. But this addition is often necessary to provide optimal safety at home.
Outdoor ramps and step-free entrances [viii]
Adding ramps to entries and exits helps minimize the risk of falls since steps can make it difficult for seniors to maintain their balance. The estimated cost for a 16-foot long ramp is $1,600.
If ramps don’t appeal to you, consider creating a step-free entrance to the home.
However, this option can cost anywhere between $1,000 and $4,000. It’s pricey, but for those who would rather not have a ramp, it is better than nothing.
It’s important to include at least one step-free entrance to the home to maximize independence and safety.
Widening doorways from 32 inches to 36 inches is recommended. Doing so makes movement through the house more accessible for people using wheelchairs. It is also a preventative measure in case there is a change in the senior’s mobility. The cost of a larger door and doorjambs should be no more than $100. [ix]
Before you decide to widen any doors, contact a contractor or other professional. You want to make sure it won’t cause any structural problems to the house. Exterior doors like the entrance and exit are safer and less expensive to widen compared to hallways and bedrooms. In contrast, interior doorways often have support beams that are crucial to the home’s structural integrity. [x]
Heat lamps and extra lighting [xi]
Consider replacing the overhead lights in the bathroom with infrared bulbs for added warmth during colder months.
Some people take longer to maneuver in tubs and showers and do everything they need to do in the bathroom. The extra heat will provide the comfort they need.
Combination heat lamps and light fixtures range between $50-$150.
As you think about changing out the bathroom lights, take time to make other lighting changes around the home.
For example, extra nightlights in the bedroom or hallway or new floor lamps for reading will make a big difference for seniors. Not only that, but simple fixes like LED tap lights are inexpensive, usually around $20 for a pack of ten.
Address signage [xii]
An often forgotten aspect when making renovations for aging in place is installing large, visible house numbers in front of the home. In the event of an accident, clear signage helps paramedics or other workers find the right home. Easy to read signs that are visible even in the dark can save valuable time in an emergency and are affordable for many budgets.
Faucet and doorknob replacement [xiii]
People with arthritis or problems gripping will appreciate the ease of using touchless or twist faucets in the kitchen or bathroom.
Anti-scald faucets prevent elders from surprising hot or icy water when toilets flush, or the washing machine fills.
Alternatively, you can also lower the water temperature on the heater to 120 degrees or less.
Similarly, changing round knobs with levers is helpful and makes it easier for those with arthritis to open doors and cabinets.
New flooring [xv]
Mobility and balance play significant roles when determining which home modifications are the most necessary. Even if seniors are relatively mobile and don’t have a history of falls, flooring makes a difference. Consider reading the Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines for tips on which type of flooring is the best choice.
The ADA lists a range of options, from tiles, carpet, and even anti-slip coating that you can apply with a roller. Check the guidelines carefully and find the best option for your loved one.
Smart home technology [xvi]
Last week’s article about seniors and technology mentioned how smart home tech could make aging in place more comfortable for seniors, their caregivers, and family members.
Technology has made it easier than ever for seniors to live at home and give loved ones peace of mind.
Installing tech like medical alert, home security, and remote monitoring or communication systems are worthwhile investments.
Additionally, smart watches, phones, necklaces, doorway sensors, and other devices make it easier to track loved ones.
But smart home technology isn’t just for keeping an eye on elders. It is also handy for things like remotely controlling lights, entertainment systems, and blinds at the touch of a button.
Monitoring systems for aging in place cost about $230, with a monthly fee between $20-$30.
Financial Aid [xvi]
Some modifications aren’t cheap and can add up quickly. But there are places for seniors and their families to apply for financial aid to help cover some of the cost.
Unfortunately, Medicare and other private insurance don’t cover home renovations.
But some plans such as Medicare Part B can help pay for an occupational therapist to make a home evaluation and offer suggestions for improvements.
Medicaid HCBS waivers give financial aid to qualified candidates in order to keep seniors from moving into assisted living homes. Visit the Paying for Senior Care’s website and check your state’s eligibility requirements and see if you or your loved one qualifies.
Veterans can inquire about financial assistance from the VA through grants used for home renovations. Visit the Department of Veterans Affairs website to find out how to apply. Additionally, the Veterans Directed Home and Community Based Services program is another source of financial aid that helps aging veterans stay at home.
Lastly, seniors can reach out to government programs such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Agriculture for assistance. Each program helps seniors continue living at home rather than move into a nursing facility. The HUD offers loans, and the Department of Agriculture gives grants. Visit the Paying for Senior Care website to find if the state you currently live in qualifies for aid.
Depending on the number of changes needed, it may be better to move into a house or apartment that is better-suited for aging in place.
Home remodeling for aging in place is a lot of work, but having the chance to age in place is well worth it. Every little thing makes a big difference.
Home renovations make it easier for seniors to enjoy a higher quality of life than they would get in an assisted living facility.
Furthermore, loved ones can rest easy knowing that their loved one is enjoying their independence in a safe and secure house.
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[i] Home Remodeling for Aging In Place | Updated for 2019. (2019, January 07). Retrieved June 4, 2019, from https://www.aginginplace.org/home-remodeling-for-aging-in-place/
[ii] Trout, J. (2019, May 21). These 8 DIY projects will make your parents home safer as they age. Retrieved June 4, 2019, from https://www.consumeraffairs.com/homeowners/aging-in-place-home-modifications.html
[iii] Home Remodeling for Aging In Place | Updated for 2019. (2019, January 07). Retrieved June 4, 2019, from https://www.aginginplace.org/home-remodeling-for-aging-in-place/
[iv] LeMunyon, K. (2017, May 1). Aging-in-Place Remodeling, Minor Modifications Gaining Popularity, According to NAHB Survey. Retrieved June 4, 2019, from https://www.nahb.org/en/news-and-publications/press-releases/2017/05/aging-in-place-remodeling-minor-modifications-gaining-popularity-according-to-nahb-survey.aspx
[v] Trout, J. (2019, May 21). These 8 DIY projects will make your parents home safer as they age. Retrieved June 4, 2019, from https://www.consumeraffairs.com/homeowners/aging-in-place-home-modifications.html
[vii] Khalfani-Cox, L. (2017, February 14). What Are the Costs of Aging in Place? Retrieved June 4, 2019, from https://www.aarp.org/money/budgeting-saving/info-2017/costs-of-aging-in-place.html
[viii] Trout, J. (2019, May 21). These 8 DIY projects will make your parents home safer as they age. Retrieved June 4, 2019, from https://www.consumeraffairs.com/homeowners/aging-in-place-home-modifications.html
[ix] Khalfani-Cox, L. (2017, February 14). What Are the Costs of Aging in Place? Retrieved June 4, 2019, from https://www.aarp.org/money/budgeting-saving/info-2017/costs-of-aging-in-place.html
[x] Trout, J. (2019, May 21). These 8 DIY projects will make your parents home safer as they age. Retrieved June 4, 2019, from https://www.consumeraffairs.com/homeowners/aging-in-place-home-modifications.html
[xii] Khalfani-Cox, L. (2017, February 14). What Are the Costs of Aging in Place? Retrieved June 4, 2019, from https://www.aarp.org/money/budgeting-saving/info-2017/costs-of-aging-in-place.html
[xiv] Khalfani-Cox, L. (2017, February 14). What Are the Costs of Aging in Place? Retrieved June 4, 2019, from https://www.aarp.org/money/budgeting-saving/info-2017/costs-of-aging-in-place.html
[xv] Trout, J. (2019, May 21). These 8 DIY projects will make your parents home safer as they age. Retrieved June 4, 2019, from https://www.consumeraffairs.com/homeowners/aging-in-place-home-modifications.html