When it comes to growing old in today’s world things have changed a great deal from our grandparent’s day. Growing up it was always talked about as my grandparents aged that they would move into an independent living facility and then directly into an assisted living home. There was never a discussion about making it possible to retrofit their existing home to make is possible for them to stay safely on their own in their own home. Today we do everything in our power to make the home that our elders live in as they age as safe as possible for them to continue to live independently.
There is a certain degree of dignity and freedom that our parents have when they are able to continue to thrive on their own without assistance from others. This change alone leads many older people to prosper in health. With this change comes the need for minor home modifications that are put into place to help assist in aging. There are a variety of plans that can be implemented that assure a safe living environment for your loved one. Here are some things to consider when thinking about renovations to a loved one’s home or to your own as you yourself travel through the aging process.
First consider the home that you live in and if it will be possible to live in the home as you age with a few minor renovations. If you currently live in a two story home can you have an electric ramp chair installed on the stairway or does it make more sense to move into a home that has everything on one floor. The problem with homes built on one floor is that they tend to have longer hallways. If you do not have the strength to maneuver the length of the long hall way it may be better to have a smaller two story home with a chair that maneuvers the stairway for you.
If you choose a one story home and the long hall way is too much for you at times consider using a wheelchair or other wheeled cart for the length of the hall way. This often is a lot easier and more convenient that dealing with the stairs. Stairs, even with the use of a chair lift are often inconvenient. The stair lift takes a great deal of time to maneuver in and out of. This could be really inconvenient especially in an emergency situation.
All entrance to the home, rooms and shower areas should include a step-less entrance, a widened door jam and pocket doors. Pocket doors are of course not an option with the main homes entrance but are necessary throughout the home. Pocket doors eliminate the hinges and jam barrier as well as the inconvenience of the door opening in and out.
Bathrooms in homes that are being remodeled to provide ease of use for aging adults should be renovated to include heightened toilets, increased lighting and step-less, door-less entry into the shower. A built in bench should be included as well as grab bars on all sides of the shower and exit. The shower is the number one place for accidents within the home so use caution when remodeling in this area especially when helping parents that would like to age in their home.
Every home remodel, every age in place scenario and every senior is different. The challenges faced throughout the process on whatever level are unique to each and every family. Be patient through the challenges and as always consider the contractor before hiring them. Ensure that they are familiar with special needs remodeling and the guidelines put forth by ADA.