Aging in place is a relatively new term that’s been used to describe designing a home for those who want to grow older in it. Instead of moving to an assisted living home or nursing home elderly persons make the choice to stay in their home but often need to alter their home to accommodate certain health issues. It’s a relatively new term but it’s something many of us have been doing since time began. We’re modifying our homes so we can care for grandma or grandpa so they can live out their life with family and friends. The mother-in-law apartment or suite is an earlier attempt at creating an aging in place space in the home.
There are many benefits to aging in place. Cost is high on the list. While it is true most homes will need to be modified to accommodate an eventual wheelchair, walker or even hospital bed, those costs are considerably less than moving someone who needs more care into a nursing home or assisted living facility. If you plan to do the care yourself you’ll save even more. Aging in place keeps the family member engaged and active, more than a nursing home can hope to achieve even in the best of facilities.
If you’ve decided you want to age in place or you’d like to have a parent move in to your home so they can age in place there are several things you’ll want to consider before you start your remodeling project.
If you’re home is more than one level you’re going to need to have a way to get up and down the stairs. An elevator is a great answer but only if you’re building a new home. It’s possible to add an elevator to existing design but it’s a costly alternative. Stair glides are less expensive but still have many considerations including if the person is able to sit comfortably long enough for the chair to make the trip. If they only reason the person needs to access the second level is for the bedroom consider moving the bedroom downstairs.
No Step Entry
If you have a garage entry without steps you’ve got nothing to worry about. Same goes for a front entrance without steps. Problem is most homes aren’t built this way, most homes will have one or two steps at the front entry. Consider decorative ramps or eliminating the steps for a gradual slope from door to sidewalk. The garage is ideal for a no step entry as it provides protection from rain and drainage isn’t an issue.
Tub vs Shower
Walk in tubs are a great invention but they have their drawbacks. They use a lot of water and you have to sit in the tub as it fills and drains before you can get out. Seals can malfunction posing a very real risk of considerable water damage as well as a safety hazard. An alternative is a walk in shower with built in seat and controls placed at the proper level. Add a floor drain and a shower curtain and you’ve got a stunning shower that is fully functional at a reasonable cost. Just make sure the tile is slip resistant and don’t forget to install grab bars for added safety.
Most doorways are wide enough to accommodate a standard wheelchair or walker. If not they can be widened. Even if you’ve widened the doorway you’ll find that walkers and wheelchairs can cause a fair amount of damage to doorway trim. Consider adding decorative brass plates to prevent nicks and gouges in the wood or drywall.
For smaller spaces pocket doors are wonderful, especially in bathrooms where a wheelchair or walker will need to fit. Pocket doors require some special considerations, however. There is no room for a knob so the pull is usually in the side or flattened on the front and back of the door. Both means of operating the door can be difficult for someone with mobility issues or arthritis.
These are just some of the things to consider when you start your aging in place remodel. The best thing you can do is talk to a certified aging in place specialist so they can design a remodel to your specific needs since every situation is unique. Need more information about aging in place, call Yvonne for more information at 832-304-2310.