Americans are getting older and living longer, due to both declining birth rates and to improved health care. As more people live well into their 80s and 90s, they naturally wish to stay active, enjoy their quality of life, and their independence. Our certified aging in place specialist can help them do just that, by implementing a home modification strategy to accommodate their changing needs.
What is Aging-in-Place?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define aging-in-place as being able to live in one’s home and local community with safety, comfort, and independence, regardless of income, abilities, or age. This type of arrangement is greatly preferred by the vast majority of America’s seniors. National surveys show that around 80% of those between ages 50 and 64 want to remain in their own homes as they get older.
This desire is becoming ever more important. Currently, 1 in 3 American households has a resident who is 60 or older, but most homes aren’t equipped to support persons who have limited physical abilities. Falls among older people are all too common, and each incident costs between $9113.00 and $13507.00 in hospitalization and medical treatment. Because of this, there’s an urgent need to modify existing homes so that such incidents can be avoided, and a certified aging in place specialist can help you with this process.
How Aging-in-Place is Classified
Those who are older, yet wish to remain in their homes, fall into three broad categories. These include:
- Those who have no urgent need for significant home renovations. These people are highly mobile and require little or no assistance going about their daily activities.
- Those with chronic or progressive conditions who may need slight to moderate modifications to their existing home but are generally able to move about and perform tasks. They might have conditions such as heart disease or diabetes that create health issues for them, but they are reasonably fit and self-ambulatory.
- Those with severe or traumatic needs due to accidents or illness. For example, someone who has suffered a stroke or been seriously injured in a tumble may fall into this category. Their home will require extensive modifications to ensure their safety and wellbeing while they dwell in it.
The Four Goals of Aging-in-Place Modifications
Home modifications for people who are aging are done on a room-to-room basis, with the following four goals in mind:
- Allowing the resident to enter and exit the home
- Enabling him or her to get about within the home’s interior
- Giving him or her access to items used in everyday life
- Maximizing safety and minimizing the danger of accidents or injuries
Specific modifications will vary from one home to the next, but the following are examples of alterations that might be done. To ensure that the appropriate modifications are selected, a knowledgeable certified aging in place specialist should be consulted.
- These should be located on the home’s main floor, where most of the living activities will be performed. If this isn’t the case, then one can usually be added.
- The dishwasher can be moved to facilitate greater ease of use. Changing the height of this appliance can be particularly helpful for many people.
- The sink can be modified in many ways to make it more accessible. For example, a roll-under sink can be added so that individuals in wheelchairs can use it. Adjustable-height sinks that raise and lower with the touch of a button are also an option.
- For cabinets, adding pull-down or pull-out shelves can make items much easier to reach. This modification can also maximize the amount of storage space available.
- Doors and drawers can have special handles and pulls added to make opening and closing them easier.
- Appliances such as stoves and refrigerators are increasingly being designed with the needs of the elderly and physically challenged in mind. Many refrigerators now have lighted ice and water dispensers on the exteriors, pull-out bins and shelves, and extended door handles that can be grasped from a variety of heights.
- As with the kitchen, this room should be located on the main floor of the home. If this isn’t the case, then options include adding one, or installing a motorized lift or an elevator to facilitate mobility between floors. Residential additions might also be worth considering.
- As many falls occur while getting into or out of bed, the addition of handrails is a frequent modification made for aging-in-place-arrangements. While these have traditionally had a very utilitarian appearance, newer models are more stylish and decorative.
- An easily accessible phone is an obvious necessity, for both safety and convenience reasons. Models with large, easy-to-read buttons can be added. Also, since most modern phones depend on electrical power as well as a phone jack, an older style, corded, rotary phone should be added as a backup in case of outages.
- Closets are actually a major cause of home injuries, especially when they’re cluttered or disorganized. Heavy items stored on higher shelves frequently fall, causing harm to those in the way. The best way to eliminate this threat is to install a closet organization system that is built with the special needs of the resident in mind. As these are very popular among homeowners, a wide variety of different options are available for aging-in-place purposes. Closet lighting should also be modified as necessary. Light switches in closets should be placed in easy-to-reach spots, and it should be bright enough for those with limited vision to see the items inside.
- Generously-sized pathways around the bed and other objects facilitate ease of mobility for the wheelchair-bound and others who are physically challenged. The pathways should also be kept free of potential obstacles.
- In general, lighting in bedrooms for aging-in-place situations should be brighter than in other homes, both to assist those with failing vision and to minimize the possibility of falling or tripping.
- A fully equipped bathroom should be available on the main living floor. In many cases, a half bath is the only bathroom on the main floor, but these can usually be modified to add a walk-in tub or shower.
- Toilet height may be a limiting factor as people age. This can be solved either by installing a different model or with the use of a seat extender. Toilet paper holders designed for one-handed use are available, and the placement of the holder itself can be changed to meet the resident’s particular needs.
- Grab bars near the toilet, as well as in and around the tub or shower, are essential in most aging-in-place situations. As stated before, newer models are more stylish and more decorative than older, institutional-style ones.
- Bathtubs and showers can be modified in numerous ways to improve access and usability. Walk-in tubs with easy-open swinging doors are available, as are roll-in showers that can be used by those that use wheelchairs. Showerheads and temperature controls can be adjusted in terms of height and operation ease.
Criner Remodeling Can Help with Your Aging-in-Place Needs
As Virginia licensed contractors, we have the tools, the experience, and the know-how to take on both large and not-so-large projects. We’ve been profiled in leading publications and have received awards for our devotion to our craft and for providing excellent service for reasonable prices. So, whatever your home remodeling needs are, get in touch with us today. We look forward to earning your business.