Revolutionizing Aging: Making Homes and Communities Accessible to Older Adults
Ageing-in-place, or staying in your own home instead of relocating to age-friendly living arrangements, has increased in popularity over the past few years. As the baby boomer population continues to age, more seniors are looking for ways to remain in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible. Accessibility modifications to an older home are essential for seniors who would like to age-in-place. These projects, though small in comparison to other home renovations, can make a huge difference in terms of accessibility and safety.
Ramps and Handrails
Stairs and steps can be treacherous for seniors with limited mobility. Installing a ramp with handrails at the front of the home can dramatically increase accessibility. The ramp should be built according to regulations as to not pose a safety risk, with handrails on both sides for extra stability. Having a ramp can also reduce strain on knees and hips, making it easier to enter and exit the home.
Another common problem area is door knobs. They become difficult to grasp as aging hands lose some of their strength. For this reason, it is advisable to switch out all twist knobs for lever-handled knobs for easy access. In addition to door knobs, exchanging twist fixtures for lever-handled fixtures can also make navigating the home much easier. Consider changing all of the door knob and fixtures in the home, not just the front door.
Grab bars are a great way to add stability and support in any area of the home. Installing grab bars near the toilet, shower or bathtub, or near favorite chairs or stairwells can add an extra layer of safety. It is important to note that grab bars need to be installed properly to ensure they will hold up to 300 pounds.
Narrow doorways can also pose a problem for seniors with mobility issues. Widening doorways to at least 32 inches can not only make movement around the home easier, but can also reduce the risk of a fall. In addition to expanding the doorway, consider removing the lower sill to further reduce the risk of a fall.
Lighting is extremely important when it comes to providing enough visibility and safety in the home. Consider installing overhead lighting in hallways and stairwells, as well as bright LED bulbs and additional floor lamps in dark rooms. Additionally, switches and faucets should be changed from toggle to dimmer or touchless to reduce the strain on aging hands.
Walk-In Tubs and Showers
Walk-in tubs and showers are also an option for increasing accessibility and safety in the bathroom. They can be quite expensive, as kits can range from $1500 to $5000 or more, not including installation. While glass enclosures might look attractive, they can be difficult to clean, so it is best to opt for a curtain or stand-alone option instead.
Overall, these small modifications are essential for seniors who wish to stay in their own home as they age, and it is worth the effort and expense to ensure they have a safe, independent environment. With a few improvements like ramps, lever-handled fixtures, grab bars, widened doorways and updated lighting, seniors have a much better chance of staying in their homes longer.