Many senior adults who are capable of living independently choose to age-in-place. To assist them in being comfortable and safe, there are some safety measures that need to be put into place. Depending on the design of the home, it may require extensive interior remodeling! But fear not; our aging in place home remodeling checklist will help you ensure everything is designed properly for your elderly family member.
First, think about the home's entrance. Are steps leading to the entry? There needs to be at least one entrance that is level to the ground, or has a ramp with handrails, leading to the landing. A covered entryway, with a handy shelf next to the door, is convenient. Ensure that the entryway is well-lit. Porch surfaces should be no more than half an inch below interior floor level.
The main living area should be one level, with no steps in between rooms. Doorways and hallways need to be wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair. Make sure that all flooring is slip resistant. Choose easy to operate hardware for doors and windows. Living room, kitchen, master bedroom, and bathroom all require 5 foot by 5 foot of clear turn space.
Install appliances with easy to read controls. A side by side refrigerator and freezer is a good option, as well as an electric cook top with an indicator light for hot surfaces, push button controls on the dishwasher, counter height microwave with large numbers, and a front load washer and dryer.
Lower the upper kitchen cabinets 3 inches for easier access. Open shelving, for frequently used items, is a good idea. Choose lower cabinets with a lazy susan and roll out trays.
Modified Shower & Bathrooms
Set hot water temperatures low enough to prevent scalding. Install leaver faucet handles on sinks and bathtubs. Raise the toilet seat 2.5 inches higher than standard. Choose a walk-in shower or bathtub, with a fold down seat, and slip resistant surface. The shower head should be handheld, with a 6 foot cord. Install grip bars in shower/bath area, and near the toilet.
Accessories & other Considerations
Choose touch light switches, loop handles on pull cords, and install extra lighting in work areas. Interior doors should swing out, rather than in, so that if a senior falls, they do not get trapped behind the door. It is a good idea to remove locks from bedroom and bathroom doors. Place night lights in the hallway, bedroom, and bathroom. Keep rooms free of clutter, and make sure there are no rugs in the home.
Following these recommendations will greatly increase the success of senior adults who want to age-in-place, and maintain their independence. Evaluate individual needs, and install additional necessary safety measures.
RH Blanchard is a trusted home remodeling contractor and property management company with over a decade of experience in the greater Boston area. If you live in Massachusetts and have questions about an aging in place renovation, contact us today!