This article was written by Larry Abbott and appeared in the June 18, 2023 ediditon of the Houston Chronicle.
As people age it is likely they will want to stay in their home as long as possible. However, often one or both can no longer get upstairs or have loss of mobility and they may need to make significant changes to their beloved home to remain independent and safe.
According to recent data from a recent AARP survey, 77 percent of older adults want to remain in their homes for as long as they can. A third of all poll participants said they would need to modify their current residence so that they or a loved one could continue to live there if they had physical limitations.
79 percent said they would need to modify bathrooms with grab bars or no-step showers.
71 percent said their home has inside and outside accessibility issues.
61 percent said they would need an emergency response system.
48 percent said they would need smart-home devices, like a voice activated home assistant or a doorbell camera.
Modifications may range from the installation of bathroom grab bars and adjusting countertop heights to the creation of first floor bedrooms and bathrooms or the installation of a stair lift or elevator. There are home elevators which can fit nicely into any home without taking up a lot of space. They can be attractive, safe and very dependable.
Other home modifications to consider when planning an aging-in-place project are widening doorways and hallways, non-slip flooring, changing hardware to lever handles, shower benches and lighting improvements. Smart home devices including door locks, cameras, appliances and lighting can help older adults age-in-place more safely even with mobility challenges and other health issues.
Today’s marketplace offers so many functional and aesthetically pleasing choices when it comes to aging-in-place products. With careful planning, homeowners can remain independent, comfortable and safe in their homes for years.
When looking for a professional remodeler, choose one who has experience with your type of project. Find a professional remodeler trained in Universal Design such as a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS). If your contractor is a designated CAPS, he or she has been trained to be aware of these unique needs and can assist in aging-in-place home modifications, whole house remodeling projects and solutions to common barriers.