Aging in place is the desire of many people but doing so comfortably can be a challenge. One of the keys to successful aging in place is to remodel your home to accommodate your needs.
Incorporate Universal Design
According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), universal design is all about designing a home so that “people of all ages, health, and abilities can enjoy the same home, and that home will be there for all its inhabitants even when their needs change.”
They further define specific common elements of universal design:
- No-step entry. There is no need to use stairs to get into the home or main rooms.
- One-story living. Places to eat, bathrooms, and bedrooms are all located on one level, which is barrier-free.
- Wide doorways, 32-36 inches, let wheelchairs pass through.
- Hallways should be 36-42 inches wide. This allows you to move easily from room to room.
- Extra floor space, so everyone feels less cramped and there is enough space to maneuver a wheelchair.
- Floors and bathtubs with non-slip surfaces are not just for people who are frail. Have handrails on steps and grab bars in bathrooms.
- Thresholds that are flush with the floor.
- Good lighting.
- Use lever door handles and rocker light switches.
Consider a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS)
CAPS professionals know the strategies and techniques for designing and building aesthetically enriching, barrier-free living environments.
A specialist goes beyond design to address the codes and standards, common remodeling expenditures and projects, product ideas, and resources needed to provide comprehensive and practical aging-in-place solutions.
A CAPS professional has been trained in:
- The unique needs of the older adult population.
- Aging-in-place home modifications.
- Common remodeling projects.
- Solutions to common barriers.
CAPS professionals are not just home remodelers. They could be, for example, health care consultants who advise homeowners on modifications and then work with architects and remodelers to bring the project to completion.
When Hiring a Specialist
Look for the following:
- Proof of liability insurance.
- Proof of workers compensation coverage.
- A valid business license.
- Good standing with the Better Business Bureau.
Seek referrals from friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, and others who have had similar work done. Contact trade associations such as the local Home Builders’ Association.
The National Association of Home Builder (NAHB) provides consumers with a list of items they should keep in mind when they are considering an aging in place project.
It is becoming more common to see the age at which people move into senior living residences rise. Assisted living residents are often an average of 85 years old. So, to insure lots of years left in your residence, bring it up to code and design it now for aging in place later.
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