As we live longer, healthier lives, more seniors are preferring to stay in their homes, rather than re-locating to a retirement community. This trend is called “aging in place,” and has become a challenging opportunity for builders and contractors to make home remodeling for seniors safe, easy and more attractive for this population.
As preparation for the special considerations required for home remodeling for seniors, those who take the Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) course have a meal wearing sunglasses smeared with Vaseline, ear plugs and hands covered with socks with a tennis ball inside. If you're a senior with cataracts, hearing loss and arthritis, this is how you move through the world. There are some typical issues and senior remodeling solutions that builders and contractors are better able to understand because of this experience.
For example, the conventional flip light switches and round doorknobs can be more than challenging for a senior with arthritis to grasp. Installing rocker switches and replacing lever-style doorknobs are practical solutions.
Doorways at least 2-feet-10-inches to 3-feet wide are considerably easier for seniors using a walker or a wheelchair. Any risers at entrances should, also, be removed. In addition, stairs that are a minimum of 7-inches high and 11-inches wide are the most safe and easiest to climb. In the bathroom, a shower without a ridge, low sidewalls and curtains instead of glass doors with a bottom ledge are beneficial when home remodeling for seniors.
For those seniors with hearing loss, installing doorbells that light up instead of ringing adds to their safety and independence. As does using contrasting colors for counters and floors in the kitchen and bathroom for those with poor vision. Good lighting throughout, especially in more hazardous areas, is a given.
Seniors who have mobility troubles either bending down or up; or, who are wheelchair-bound benefit from cabinets, counters and shelves that can extend up or down. In addition, counters and sinks can be modified, allowing wheelchairs to fit under them.
Home remodeling for seniors presents unique and specific challenges to builders and contractors. As the population ages, making safe, unobtrusive and effective modifications to their existing homes will increase, as well.