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Hire a professional company that has experience with this type of renovation.

Considerations for An Aging in Place Renovation

Hire a professional company that has experience with this type of renovation.

This is likely a fairly obvious point, however, so many individuals think they can renovate, when fewer actually have the skills required to renovate properly. A design-build company that has experience with aging in place renovations will be able to assist you with the entire process, from budgeting to layout to installation. An authentic contractor or company will have access to trades people to perform the tasks and will be able to navigate the permit process, if the renovation requires one. Most renovations of this type do require at least one permit. A professional builder and renovator will be insured and have the staff needed to complete the remodel in an orderly timeline.

Hire a professional company that has experience with this type of renovation.
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Set a budget

While there are not as many choices for aging in place remodeling as there are with regular renovation projects, there are still choices that will impact any budget. It is important to determine what the cost would be to live in an assisted living home at this juncture. For example, if it will cost $80,000 annually to live in an assisted living facility that meets your wants and needs, you can estimate that an $80,000 renovation to make your home suitable to aging in place will be paid off in one year’s time. And so forth. Understanding what the cost of the alternative is, is necessary to determine your budget and feel confident in it.

Set a budget

Outside Accessibility

Before we look at making the inside of your home accessible, we need to make sure you can safely enter your home! Let’s start with installing a ramp with handrails to the front door or most used door. The ramp should be a very gradual incline for three reasons. Firstly, one needs to use upper body strength to propel their wheelchair up-hill, no matter how small the hill is. Secondly, one needs to slow down their wheelchair when rolling down a hill and if ice is ever in that area, a very gradual incline will be much safer than the alternative. Thirdly, the ramp should be accessible for anyone using a walker and a gradual incline is best for this scenario. Consider placing no-slip strips on the ramp as well.

Outside Accessibility

Inside Accessibility & Flooring

A ranch style home or bungalow is much more conducive to an aging in place situation than a two-story home is. In a bungalow, generally, everything is on the main floor, which makes it much easier to get around. If one lives in a home that has stairs, install stair lifts and/or an elevator.

Inside the home, consider placing either no-slip strips or anti-skid mats on any flooring that could be slippery when dry or wet. Surfaces that have the potential to become slippery include laminate, hardwood and tile. If installing any of these three flooring types, ensure that it has built-in texture so it is less slippery.

Walkers and canes, as well as shoes and slippers, can find navigating flat surfaces challenging at times, especially if water is spilled on the surface. Do not use area rugs and carpets that are not firmly attached to the floor. Un-affixed rugs are a pain to wheel over and are a slipping hazard to one with a cane, walker or less than perfect balance.

Moreover, installing flooring that is wheelchair friendly, think NOT carpet, is not only easier to traverse but is quicker to clean. Ensure that the flooring does not change in height when moving from one room to another. Also ensure that there are no electrical cords or tripping hazards in all rooms.

Again, having all one needs on the main floor of the home will make it much easier to age in place. A master suite with full bathroom on the main floor as well as a laundry room is highly recommended.

Inside Accessibility & Flooring

Lighting

Having abundant lighting in a home will help prevent accidents from happening. Bring a low chair to all the light switches and sit on that chair, as if it was a wheelchair. Can you easily reach the light switches? Probably not. What level is easily reachable by sitting in that low chair? That is the height to install the light switches at. Motion sensor lights are also a very good idea, both inside and out.

Lighting
New West Kitchen & Dining Room Addition 

Bathroom

Bathrooms can be fraught with danger due to the nature of bathing and the wet surfaces that arise from this. Ensure the flooring is not slippery by installing anti-slip strips and anti-slip tile. Also ensure that water from the shower or bath stays in the bathtub or shower stall.

Ensure the faucets are at a level that is easy for someone in a wheelchair to reach. As well, ensure the faucets are easy to operate. Check to make sure that the water temperature of your home is not so hot it would burn if the wrong faucet was turned on.

We also recommend installing some type of bidet. This makes staying clean so much easier.

Bathroom

Kitchen

A wheelchair accessible kitchen requires some significant alterations. Firstly, the countertops will need to be at a level one can access while in a wheelchair. This means the sink is lower as well. There will need to be room to wheel around in the kitchen, generally more room than is in most kitchens currently. Pull-out cabinet drawers and shelves will make accessing items much easier. A sink that has room underneath to sit at would be very helpful to do dishes and meal prep.

Consider installing an auto-shut off oven and stove, for a safety precaution. There are Smart Stoves and Smart Ovens which can be programmed to automatically shut off when not in use after a set amount minutes.

Kitchen

Smart Home Features

As long as you know that Bluetooths have nothing to do with your teeth, you are hip enough to understand the technology! Bluetooth technology can help homeowners control devices and even appliances from anywhere in the house via their phone. Furthermore, a Wi-Fi internet connection can also allow one to remotely operative a variety of things including security systems and appliances. There are refrigerators that allow you to see inside of them from your phone so you know whether or not you are out of eggs, butter and milk, for example. No need to actually open the refrigerator door to find out. We suppose that DOES take the fun out of it, but there are more entertaining things to do than open the refrigerator…at least, we hope there are!

Voice technology allows us to operate items simply by speaking. We like trying this: “Alexa, what’s in my refrigerator?” Now THAT is entertaining! Once you have had enough fun from giving Alexa a hard time, you can turn on some music with your voice and even order a pizza that way.

Smart technology can be used to lock or unlock your doors, adjust your lighting and even your home temperature.

Security cameras and doorbell cameras can connect to a phone so you can see who is ringing your doorbell.

There are medic alert systems that allow the users to push a button or even just speak to have help sent. There are even smart medication dispensers that let you know when it is time to take your prescription and won’t let you take an extra dose if you forgot you already took it.

Smart Home Features

Maintenance & Emergency Preparedness

This is not a category to be overlooked. Firstly, ensure that any repairs that are needed are completed. Install battery-operated lights that will brightly illuminate your home, especially the top and bottom of stairs, if there is a power outage.

Have an organized system for mail, flyers, recycling and trash. Items we do not own but that pass through our home need a place to go, too. Perhaps more trash and recycling bins are needed all around the house? Keeping the home clutter-free makes it easier to navigate the space and less stressful to live there.

Have any prescription medicine clearly labelled and easily accessible for the patient or caregiver. Finally, ensure there are current, functioning smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors throughout the home.

Following these recommendations will help one transition to a comfortable home where they can age in place.

Maintenance & Emergency Preparedness