Aging in Place Image

Aging-in-Place Renovations

T.E. Cunningham Image
Are you finding it tough to manage regular daily tasks around your home as you grow older, or do you have parents in that situation? The ability to navigate daily life as one ages can be challenging in the home, and safety can be of concern.

There is a boom in the construction business for accommodating homeowners in this situation; it’s referred to as aging-in-place remodeling. Whether it’s making your kitchen or bathroom more accessible, adding ramps, lifts or changing an entry, a contractor can help you with your home renovations. The National Association of Home Builders has developed a certification program for this growing type of design: Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists - builders with CAPS behind their name - are experts for this specialty remodeling.

When seniors want a more accessible house to meet their mobility needs, finding a local CAPS builder is a great starting place. You will then want to work with them on the correct customized plan for your home.

“You want to vet your potential builder,” explains Keith Blay, Owner of Mr. Remodeler, which is based in Kansas City. “One of the things we see the most is people going with the first bid or the least expensive bid. Then their contractor doesn’t show up or get the job done correctly. Homeowners should check with the Better Business Bureau, Angie’s List - even more so than Google reviews. These types of organizations actually do research on the company.”

A few aging-in-place items to consider:

  • First, think safety. Next, anti-fall. Finally, luxury. If your remodeling budget will bear it, what are the “extras” you’d like to make life easier?

  • Install grab bars in all restrooms. When placed in showers and bathtubs, and by the toilets, these bars will help prevent falls that could result in serious injury. Another option, albeit more expensive, is to add a curbless shower and/or walk-in tub. These are particularly helpful to seniors who struggle with stepping up or over objects. Blay says, “The bathroom is generally the most dangerous room in the house, with both challenges from water and because it contains so many hard, sharp edges. Also, many people don’t think about good lighting in this area, which is crucial for safety.”

  • Reduce fall risk with slip resistant flooring. Many areas of your home may have carpeted flooring, which tends to be a safe surface as we age. That said, most homeowners prefer something other than carpet in the bathroom or kitchen. Installing special anti-slip flooring can help prevent injury.

  • Remember to make sure all safety items are checked regularly to confirm they are working. Additionally, they should be maintained in a place accessible to the aging homeowner. Items like smoke detectors and appliances/vents need to be relocated if not 100 percent accessible by the homeowner.

  • Widen hallways and doorways.

  • Change the main entrance to improve accessibility. “We can put in ramps or lifts, handrails and shelves on the front porch to put objects down to open the door with ease.” says Blay.
If you are a veteran reading this, the Veterans Administration has a Special Adaptive Housing Program that may provide assistance.

Additionally, there are non-profit groups and state departments that have aging assistance programs to help homeowners stay in their houses, which may be worth exploring for those with a limited budget.

Remember, the first step is to interview CAPS contractors in your area to find out which aging-in-place options are right for you, your needs and your budget. According to Blay, aging-in place projects can be as small as installing a grab bar in the shower for a few hundred dollars to adding a customized bedroom and bathroom on the first floor, which could run as much as $70,000 or more, depending on the design chosen by the homeowner.

Have you had experience with an aging-in-place remodel? Tell us about it.

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Categories: Retirement, Your Home
Tags: Retirement Tips

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