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5 Best Questions to Ask Aging in Place Remodelers

Posted on July 28th, 2016

All home renovations seem to bring up a multitude of questions and decisions. Some might seem easy, like choosing a paint color; while others may be more complex, such as changing the structure of a living area. But all should be carefully considered, especially when remodeling your home with the goal of independent living for the long term.
As you start to think through aging in place remodeling ideas, consider asking your renovation professional these important questions to make sure your finished project allows you to stay at home as long as possible and avoid costly mistakes while remodeling your home.

What should I consider when widening doorways and hallways?

One common aging in place remodeling project is to expand the dimensions of doorways, hallways and entryways to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers for seniors and those with mobility issues. But because the actual structure of the home may need to be modified, it's important to understand the full impact of the project before getting started. Widening doorways could be a challenge in terms of maintaining the structural load of floors above. Removing parts of walls or moving them completely means first assessing what exactly is inside of them; be it electrical wiring, pipes or other mechanical systems. Plus, once walls are relocated, your floors may need patching or resurfacing, which can add to the expense.

How can I update my kitchen to help me age in place?

According to a recent study by Houzz, 56 percent of 60+ households plan to stay in their homes indefinitely, with many renovating in order to do so. Of the 60+ households taking on kitchen remodels, 60 percent aim to improve accessibility to make life easier and require less maintenance. Ask your kitchen remodeler what changes would work best for your space from both a safety and design perspective. Lowering cabinets and adding drawers for easy-to-reach storage, adjusting countertop height and adding seated work areas are common aging in place remodeling tips for the kitchen. Other ideas include updating appliances with raised or wall-mounted versions to avoid bending and allow easier access as well as finding options with larger, easier-to-operate controls.

Can my bathroom be remodeled to accommodate me now and as I age?

It is possible to create a bathroom that's attractive for your entire household now and safe and comfortable for any aging in place family members. The Houzz study referenced above states that 69 percent of the 60+ homeowners renovating their bathroom are updating with aging in mind. Walk-in tubs, walk-in no barrier showers and combinations units are available to allow bathing to continue to be an independent and private experience for aging seniors and those with mobility issues or disabilities. Consider getting an in-home safety consultation to fully assess your current bathroom space and determine what bathroom safety remodeling ideas are best for you. Other common updates include installing raised, comfort-height toilets, attractive shower rails and grab bars, and faucets with ergonomic handles.

Elevator vs. stair glide vs. one-floor design – which is right for me?

Depending on your situation and the current layout of your home, one of the biggest decisions you may want to discuss with your aging in place remodeler is how having stairs versus a one-floor layout could impact you as you age. While one story homes are often thought to be the best option for those in wheelchairs and walkers, keep in mind that they sometimes have longer hallways that can be tiresome or difficult to get through. Installing an elevator has its perks of being able to roll a wheelchair or cart with bags right on to it, however, it can be an expensive undertaking and difficult to design depending on the structure of your home. Stair glides also have their pros and cons but do prove to be a successful option for many older residents. The main thing to keep in mind is that altering stairs could lead to a large renovation and should be discussed upfront before other remodeling plans are solidified.

How can accessibility be incorporated into design?

Universal design is a term used to describe safety features creatively built into a home while still allowing for an attractive and current home design. By incorporating accessibility features into the design, family members of all ages can be comfortable in their home. Consider stylish tile and hardwood flooring options that are matte and more slip resistant. Add a band of different color to countertop edges using a modern tile or other material to make them easier to see. Install sidelights (with shades or other coverings for protection) on doors to allow those in wheelchairs to safely see who is outside without having to open the door. Add recessed lighting to combine better visibility with modern design.

Your aging in place remodeler can give you some great tips on how to enhance your home keeping safety, design and comfort in mind and costly mistakes to a minimum.

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