Renovating to Age in Place

12/01/15 at 03:15 PM | Published Under Remodeling by Deb Witte

Renovating to Age in Place? Focus Efforts and Budgets on Bathrooms and Kitchens

No one relishes the prospect of having to move out of his or her home due to age-related health, mobility or dexterity issues. In fact, more than half of homeowners 60 and older say they intend to stay in their current homes indefinitely.  Fortunately for people who want to stay put, a range of home improvements can make it easier to remain in their home as they grow older.

Targeting key areas like bathrooms and kitchens can improve a house's long-term livability.

Better function in bathrooms

Often when people develop mobility or dexterity issues, they find their existing bathrooms are not in a convenient location in the house, or aren't configured with safety in mind. They may need to add a bathroom in a small space or reconfigure the ones they have. When renovating an existing bath or creating a new bathroom where one did not previously exist, homeowners should keep the following key considerations in mind:

  • Multiple light sources can help reduce glare and shadows - two dangerous visual effects in bathrooms, where most home falls occur.
  • Flooring material should be slip-resistant and grab bars are essential in showers, bath tubs and near toilets.
  • Shower heads should be on a slide bar that allows the spray to be raised or lowered depending on the needs and height of the user.
  • Showers and faucets should be controlled by levers, rather than knobs, and all showers should have thermostatic controls to reduce the risk of burns.

Creating more usable kitchens

Kitchens are another high-utility and high-risk area of the home for seniors. Mobility and dexterity challenges can make everyday tasks like cooking and cleaning difficult to achieve in an ordinary kitchen.

Seniors should focus on improvements to enhance accessibility, such as installing lifts for countertops, cabinets, cooktops and sinks. These electric lifts allow homeowners to adjust the height of key work areas depending on whether they're sitting or standing while using the spot.

Above-floor plumbing can also be useful in kitchen renovations, where homeowners desire a more open floor plan to accommodate wheelchairs.  Also, above-floor plumbing allows one to relocate a sink or create an "island" without the expense of extensively re-plumbing the entire kitchen.