Home modifications is a fairly new concept that has come along with the incarnation of seniors choosing to stay living in their homes in place of moving to assisted living facilities and nursing homes. Due to limitations that naturally occur as we age changes need to be made in order for needs to be met and safety kept at a premium. Home modifications can range from replacing the knobs on cabinets to bathroom remodels that include barrier free entry tubs.
Seniors need home modifications in order to age in place. They promote keeping independence in senior citizens life while keeping them safe. It is important to recognize that eighty-five percent of elderly people wish to stay in their homes and are doing so. Out of those eighty-five percent only a small percentage are equipped with accommodations that will allow them maximum safety.
Homes without age in place modifications become harder to maintain and live in for seniors. It is proven that a home that is perfectly safe and allows for independent living at sixty-five does not necessarily accommodate the needs of a seventy year old. It has been proven that simple modifications done to the home can eliminate up to fifty percent of the accidents that occur to seniors aging in place.
The most common accident to occur within the home to seniors is a fall. There are many home modifications that can be done to prevent accidental falls. Many age in place specialists will come into the home and do a free home analysis of problem areas. With this information homeowners can budget to make arrangements to accommodate their needs as they begin the aging process. If their goal is to age in their homes and wish to live as independently as possible starting out early in making simple changes will ease both the financial and emotional burdens that can occur.
Below is an example of an inspection of the kitchen and bathroom space within a home. With this general look it is easy to see how home modifications are necessary to safely age in place.
- It is important to make cabinet knobs easy to pull open. As people age they often begin to lose the strength and ability to work door knobs that have to be turned or that are hard to pull open.
- Stove controls must all be marked with bold lettering and easy to use. It is important that there are lights that are on the stove that signal when it is on and the stove top is hot. This is important to prevent the stove from being left on or a hand placed on the stove while it is still on.
- Faucets should be levered instead of turn knobs. This will ease turning them on and off.
- Grab bars should be put in place in spaces such as tub and toilet areas. It is also important to evaluate the area around the toilet and the toilet itself. Seniors begin to have a harder time lowering and raising themselves. This issue can be resolved with grab bars and high rise toilet aides.
- Ovens are also another area of concern. They are often heavy and hard to open. This is something to look into. A convection oven can be purchased to help with this issue.
- A place to sit while working in the kitchen becomes necessary. The aging process has a strange effect on joints and the ability to stand for long periods of time. Cutting celery and dicing carrots is made simpler with a seated work area. The risk of falling or slipping while using a knife decreases significantly.
- The tub and shower is a large area of concern. A barrier free shower entrance is an incredibly nice feature to have installed. Bathroom remodels are a common renovation for homeowners. A bit of forwarding thinking can save a lot of money later on.
- Water temperatures should be regulated to prevent burning. This is something that is simple and does not require any renovations.
- Items that are used on a regular basis such as shampoo and dish soap should be within reaching distance. Over reaching can lead to falls. It is important that everyday use items are well within reach.
Home modifications can improve the lives of those aging in place. Safety is of course the main concern however a skilled age in place contractor can blend safety and aesthetics while putting in place home modifications.
Every homeowner has a preference in how they want their home and space to function and flow. This is true in every room in a home especially the kitchen and bathroom spaces. Every year you will notice that there are trends and fads that are incorporated into remodels and new construction that update spaces and give a fresh look and feel to the space. It also dates your home without trying.
I don’t consider a kitchen and bathroom space having the look and feel of a certain time or era as a bad thing. To be honest this is what makes a home unique. Yes, there are times when it looks plain out dated but can easily be updated adding a few minor tweaks to the space and an entire overhaul or room renovation is not needed.
A home I recently went into was very much reminiscent of an older eighties style kitchen. The yellow coloring, oak cabinets, laminate counters and linoleum flooring. Dead give a ways to a space that had seen its hay day. The couple grappled with many decisions. The cabinets were in great shape, the function of the kitchen layout was perfect and everything was still in incredible shape. The space needed minor updates however not every aspect of this eighties kitchen needed to be removed.
The solution was to add in some changes from trends that are up and coming this year. Trends in cabinetry are on two opposite spectrum’s wither bright white or dark finishes. The couple really liked the idea of a dark finish especially since the linoleum counter top was lighter and was not going to be replaced. We decided to go with a cherry/black finish and add a super glossy glaze. This is an incredibly up to date look for cabinetry. We replaced the eighties gold handles with some super sleek dark satin stainless steel cabinet hardware and installed a new touch activated faucet.
Another element that we added to update the cabinetry is to remove the center of the cabinet door and replace it with glass. Using glass elements in kitchens adds a modern element and really makes the space updated. The cabinets that had their small middle sections replaced with glass were then filled with pieces that were used often and pretty enough that they needed to be visible. We also added glass elements in the form of vases filled with stones. This couple collected rocks from their adventures and they were currently stored away. This gave the couple a place to display their finds while bringing in an element of nature.
The kitchen flooring is where the couple decided to spend their renovation funds. The linoleum flooring dated the space in an unbelievable way, the material, the pattern and the colors all reminiscent of the eighties. For this couple ceramic flooring was the look and feel they were interested in. They choose a rustic slate tile in twelve by twelve squares. The larger tiles looked great in their space as the dining room and kitchen were blended into one space as many eighties kitchens were designed.
These few upgrades really brought this couples eighties kitchen into the twenty first century. The space did not need a complete renovation as the space functioned perfectly with the current layout. Thankfully this space had good bones to begin with making this update a whole lot simpler.
Eventually everybody comes to a point in life where they need to rely on care from someone else. Most of the time it is a parent needing end of life care. Depending on each situation the choice to bring them home to live with you or to live in an assisted living facility is a personal one. Both situations involve a change for your loved one and you and both require a great deal of planning.
If the choice is to bring them into your home it is important to make sure you are equipped with independent living products and solutions throughout your home. Note that these products are no longer clinical in style and have been made to enhance ones home while not necessarily needing to be permanently installed. These products help to allow seniors to maintain an independent and safe lifestyle while retaining the homes appearance and allowing the senior to feel like less of a burden to you.
One of the most important rooms to make safe is the bathroom area. Many homes have multiple bathrooms. The bathroom that the senior in the household will be using most often should be the one that is equipped with essential safety measures. To make sure the bathroom renovations are up to par for independent adult living make sure that getting in and out of the tub and up off the toilet is as easy as possible. This may mean that grab bars need to be installed and that padding and anti-slip materials are added to slick ceramic tile and linoleum floors. Preventing the fall from happening in the first place is a whole lot easier than caring for the patient after the fall.
If your home is one in which a threshold is crossed to enter or if the home has small steps that help vary the levels consider the installation of a threshold ramp is an affordable option that can be made to blend with the existing décor of the home. It does not have to be permanent and can be easily installed. These are good to have no matter if a walker or wheelchair is needed. Week knees and legs are better equipped to handle small threshold ramps better than steps and more likely than not a walker or mobility equipment of sorts will be needed at some point. If your home has stairs the best option is to make everything that the senior needs accessible to him/her on the main floor where they will be spending most of their time. Otherwise be prepared to install a chair lift to ease access to the rest of the home.
The bedroom is another room that requires the senior to be independent in movement and needs to be extra safe. Sensors are a must for seniors in the bedroom area. Lights that are activated with movement or clapping are needed so that the minute the elderly loved one is awake they can have access to light without leaving the bed. Depending on the level of care needed there are a multitude of products available to assist seniors in getting around with little to no help and that help maintain the aspect of privacy that is so desired.
Each room in the house has certain challenges that will need to be overcome when it comes to handicap construction otherwise known as age in place accommodations. When it comes to caring for a loved one and ensure their independence and safety as they live out the last years of their lives no obstacle is one that a solution can’t be found.
Every year our home finds a way to be updated, accidentally or planned, it happens. This year it is planned thankfully. The kitchen did not catch on fire from a faulty built in microwave, the pipes did not explode in the laundry room, and the kids did not spill every unknown substance on the living room floor, nothing. This year we planned to take on turning the master bathroom into a sanctuary. We also needed to take into consideration that we were getting older and with that coming physical challenges, such as a knee reconstruction, would make it difficult to use the tub/shower for much longer.
The first thing we did was to consider that even though a tub was out of the question we needed a space that promoted relaxation while showering. The last thing that was going to happen is a cramped, tight one person shower surround. Instead we constructed a barrier free entry shower that is large enough for a party with built in bench seating. The days of bending in every direction known to man to shave my legs in the shower were going to be a thing of the past. We also decided it was in our best interest to install grab bars and to make one of the multiple shower heads a hand held removable one. All of these details will allow us to age in this home and be comfortable.
The next thing I considered is that I wanted a minimal effort bathroom in regards to keeping it clean. For this reason I choose to have quartz countertops installed throughout the space. The sink station and vanity area are all quartz. The material requires minimal effort to maintain and looks great wet or dry which was perfect for the space.
A detail I wanted to make sure we did not overkill was the latest in bathroom trends. I did not want to be living in this space in ten years with an outdated master bathroom. I knew I disliked walking into a home and knowing exactly when the house was built based upon the trendy tile, colors on the wall or appliances. It is with that in mind that we went as neutral in the tile, countertop and wall color. We added color in with the use of trendy colors in the accent pieces throughout the space. A vase here, some hand towels and baskets make the space trendy without making it permanent.
As I mentioned before this is the home we are continually put time and money into as we intend to grow old here. With that in mind many of the home renovations that we decide to take on require us to consider that we are aging. The kids are getting older and moving on. We need to be able to access the space freely. This requires some fore thought and planning. When it comes to age in place remodeling we have several sources to look towards to make sure the upgrades we are making in the home meet with the National Association of Home Builders Certified Age in Place Specialist Designs. It is possible to maintain a home that is safe for our aging bodies without turning the house into a sterile hospital environment.
With every remodel, accidental or planned, from here on out we will be turning to the experts in age in place remodeling to ensure that we aren’t wasting time, money or effort in our home renovations.
What is the secret to a kitchen renovation that ends up being exactly what you wanted in the end result? The answer; know what mistakes to avoid. In talking with friends, family and neighbors you are sure to hear a great deal of stories on remodeling mistakes. Homeowners can keep their own kitchen remodel from become a disaster by avoiding the blunders those before them have made.
Mistake # 1: Small Details before Large Details
Many people are guilty of this living life in general. How many times do you choose a car before considering the bigger picture of insurance and fuel costs? The car payment is only one small detail in the long term ownership and cost associated with the car.
The same is true in kitchen remodeling. Choosing a material for a counter top before considering how family friendly it is for example can be a costly mistake. Although soapstone is a beautiful material for counters it requires a lot of care. Time caring for the counter takes away time needed to cart kids in the car pool, cook dinner, etc… It is not wise to look into purchasing new appliances before considering exactly what the layout of the kitchen will be after the remodel. Consider the project as a whole. Look at where your family is right now, the lifestyle you are accustomed too and the space constraints before choosing a style and design for your kitchen. This will help you considerably in saving you time and money.
Mistake # 2: Fad over Classic Beauty
Think about all the kitchens you have seen in all the homes you have visited or toured. You can tell the date the house was built when the home still has its original kitchen in place. When thinking about kitchen fad’s there is several that instantly come to mind. The first being country kitchens. Picture the kitchen; I am sure you have seen it. Chickens decorating a border filled with red barns and hay bales, yellow walls and vinyl flooring. What about the checkered floor in black and white with hints of red like an old fashion ice cream parlor? That was popular for a bit. This is what homeowners should avoid in renovating their kitchens.
Look at kitchens you know of that have stood the test of time. What elements do they have in common? Radical colors and flashy features are not prominent. Instead these kitchens stick with classic, neutral colors and appliances. Counter tops are kept conservative and patterns are eliminated. This is what keeps a kitchen classic.
Mistake # 3: Not Hiring A Professional Kitchen Contractor
It is not cheaper to do it yourself in the case of a kitchen remodel. When you consider professional kitchen contractors work with wholesale prices and consider the value of your time. Hiring a professional will help when it comes to addressing the homeowners real needs verses the wants that can drive a budget out of control. A professional will help homeowners access the needs, along with the desires of the homeowners and estimate a realistic budget. This can help a ton in the kitchen remodeling process as a whole.
There are guidelines in place to assist elderly and physically challenged people when it comes to accessing public spaces and the space within their living environment. Guidelines set for by the ADA, otherwise known as The American with Disabilities Act. It is important that caregivers of individuals falling into this category are knowledgeable about current requirements. Contractor’s making handicap construction type upgrades should be certified by the ADA. There are major differences involved in making a home safe, room by room, for those with special needs.
One room in particular that needs special attention is the bathroom. Grab bars need to be installed and professionally anchored into the wall. It is important to note that standard wall anchors might not be enough to hold the weight of an individual day after day. It is important to look to use products that are specifically designed for ADA purposes. Look for fasteners that state “For use in universal design construction”. These products are rated to hold upwards of 600 pound or more. If someone is using the grab bar as they are about to fall the pull, push force will indeed be more than the 200 pound rating of standard anchors.
Floor space is an issue throughout the home. The clear space needed to accommodate a wheelchair user is at least 30″ x 48″. When designing the furniture within a room it is best to keep in mind that wheelchairs need to be able to approach the space forward or parallel for ease of transfer. Also keep in mind the material used for flooring. Carpets with frieze or shag are not good choices for those with mobility issues as well as the use of floor rugs. The carpet or flooring should be smooth and obstacle free. Baskets are used a lot to keep clutter under control but those also can be nuisances when navigating using a walker, wheelchair, cane or crutches.
Kitchens spaces are unavoidable and must be designed around those living in the space that are limited in movement, mobility and other ADA needs. An open kitchen design is obviously the best option for any home that will be used during the aging in place process or for physically challenged individuals. With the new technology that is available this is easier to achieve than ever before. Start by adding extra lighting throughout the kitchen, including under cupboard lighting. This will help illuminate the counter work space when preparing meals.
It is important that everything be within reach as well. This will mean installing fixtures that are easy to manipulate. Avoid knobs that are small or need to be turned. Lazy-Susan shelving and cupboards with multiple sliding shelves are the best option for people with disability. This allows things to be within reach without having to stand on a step stool or stretch to reach. Faucets should be those that do not require turning, single handle faucets are super easy to manipulate for hands that are aching from arthritis or that are losing their mobility.
The biggest thing to remember when upgrading your home to age in place or to accommodate a loved one with limited abilities is to hire someone who is familiar with handicap construction and age in place home modifications. Not all general contractors have experience in the world of universal design and all of the items that need special attention. One thing to learn is that not ever wall anchor is suited for use in ADA renovations. Even if the rating seems high enough for the amount of pressure anticipated to be put on the object consider the force that occurs when falling or bracing one’s self. This is the weight you are anchoring!
When it comes to aging in place the best plan is to make a plan of action as the day will sneak up on you before you even realize it. Aging happens to us without even letting us have a clue that it is happening. My parents who I still considered incredibly young at sixty five however there are things around the house that I already see becoming increasingly difficult for them to do. My dad of course is still taking on all of the challenges without asking for a bit of help however the day is coming all too soon when he will have no choice.
Each room of the house has its challenges when it comes to aging in place. The same is true when faced with handicap construction for people with special needs. When it comes to kitchen remodels it is important to adjust many aspects within the environment.
One item that is easy to manipulate are the cabinets. Base cabinets can be fitted with roll-out trays making the items easier to reach. Remember as we age bending becomes a bit more difficult. Corner cupboards can be enhanced using a lazy-susan. This accessory allows everything within the space to be glided on a spinning platform which makes the items in the back easier to reach with the rotation of the tray. Also replace cabinet knobs with easy pulls. Aging hands are often arthritic and some pulls can be especially difficult to put your hand around.
Consider replacing the kitchen faucet as well. Knob fashion faucets make it difficult to turn the water on and off. A single levered faucet works well for individuals that have lost hand strength or are simply becoming affected by the ailments that come with the aging process.
The next element to consider is when it comes to the stovetop and oven. The best option, if it is within your budget is to replace gas and electric stovetop areas with induction stovetops. An induction stovetop uses magnetic energy and will only heat the area below and right next to the pot. This reduces the likelihood of injury from burns related to hot stovetops. Not to mention the benefit of less energy used.
Kitchen lighting should illuminate the countertops. This can be done by adding under-wall cabinet lighting. If the work surface is brighter it is easier for elder eyes to work when it comes to slicing vegetables and working on the counter.
The last thing within the kitchen to think about is the flooring. It is necessary to ensure that the flooring is not slippery or filled with throw rugs. If you find the floor surface to be a bit slippery you can use a anti-slip treatment on the floor to help.
Each room in the home with has different handicap construction/age in place needs that need to be met as the aging process begins. The goal is to define issues as they arise and create solutions before they become problems.