Aging in place: Remodeling tips for seniors

Mon Nov 14 2022

After all the effort we put towards turning our houses into homes, it’s little wonder that most of us hope to stay in our homes for as long as we can. But the physical changes that come with growing older can create safety concerns for seniors hoping to age in place.

The solution? Aging in place remodeling. With a little planning, you can modify your home so it’s safer for you as you age.

What is aging in place?

Data shows that 77% of adults over the age of 50 want to age in place, meaning they want to stay in their homes for as long as possible. That number has stayed more or less the same for almost a decade.

There are a lot of good reasons someone might choose to age in place, including:

  • Comfort. We all feel better being around things we are familiar with, and aging seniors often like the familiarity and memories that their homes provide.
  • Independence. Being able to contribute to society and maintaining a sense of autonomy can go a long way to preventing depression.
  • Pets. Sometimes assisted living facilities prohibit certain types of animals. Keeping your beloved pets helps you get exercise while also providing companionship.
  • Community. The relationships you’ve built with your neighbors are important to staying active and healthy.

For all of the benefits, staying in your home for the long term does have risks. People often develop mobility and balance issues as they age. These plus poor hearing and eyesight can make it difficult for older adults to age in place.

That’s why it’s important to think about the accommodations you might need and to start remodeling now. Doing what you can now may increase the likelihood of you staying in your home as you age.

Aging in place remodeling tips

While aging in place is a priority for many older adults, understanding what that entails may not be on everyone’s radar. Only 34% of older adults realize they’ll need to make physical changes to their homes in order to remain in it as they age.

Most homes require some modifications to make them safe for seniors. Here’s our list of aging in place remodeling tips to get you started.

Install smart technology devices

Installing smart technology may make it easier for seniors to age in place.

Smart technology may be one of the simplest ways to make aging in place a reality. Installing it in your home now means you can likely use your smartphone or virtual assistant to:

  • Turn on the lights.
  • Lock your doors.
  • Raise and lower the temperature.
  • Control appliances.

You can even find smart technology for your bathroom!

Make your bathrooms more accessible

Zero-entry showers, handrails, and shower seats can minimize falls.

Falls are a big concern for seniors, so many of our remodeling tips focus on minimizing your chances of falling. For example, you may want to:

  • Convert your bathtub into a walk-in shower. This eliminates that first awkward step into a tub where you could easily lose your balance.
  • Add handrails or a grab bar. That way you have something to hold on if you do get wobbly.
  • Opt for a permanent shower seat. This can reduce your fall chances even further.

Another area of concern in the bathroom is the floor. While no flooring is completely slip resistant, some do provide better protection from falls. Vinyl, natural stone, cork, and bamboo are all options to consider.

Update your countertops

Rounded countertops may reduce injuries for seniors aging in place.

You may want to install kitchen and bathroom countertops with rounded corners if you plan on aging at home. Not only can an older person hit their head on a sharp corner in a fall, but they may suffer bruising if they bump into one. Another option might be to use a corner guard to soften edges.

While you’re thinking about countertops, you might also want to consider getting some with multiple levels. A standard 36-inch counter could make up the majority of your workspace, but adding shorter levels would give you an option for sitting.

Think about mobility aids

Pull-out shelves minimize can be a big help for seniors with limited mobility.

As it gets harder to move about, many of us will end up using mobility aids, such as wheelchairs and walkers. Installing a ramp is the first step to making the home more accessible. Even if you don’t need a wheelchair, a ramp can be easier than climbing porch stairs.

But there are likely other areas of your home that could use similar treatment. For example, take a look at your:

  • Bathroom. A roll-in shower eliminates the curb at your shower entrance, making it easier for someone in a wheelchair to get in.
  • Doorways. Door openings need to be at least 32 inches to give a wheelchair sufficient room. (Check the space allotted in your garage, too. You typically need five feet of space to get wheelchairs and other assistive devices out of cars.)
  • Cabinets. Pull-out shelves in lower cabinets and pull-down shelves in upper cabinets can make it easier for people with limited mobility to find what they need.

Add a chair lift

Chair lifts give seniors access to upper levels in their homes.

Older people who live in multi-story buildings often put everything they need on the main floor of their home. That way, they minimize the amount of time they spend using the stairs and reduce their fall risk.

However, that’s not possible in every home so another option is a chair lift. This gives you access to the upper levels of your home, while also protecting you from falls.

Adjust light switches and outlets

Moving outlets can make them more accessible for seniors.

You can hire an electrician to move light switches and outlets to a height that works for you. That may mean lowering switches so you can easily reach them from a seated position or raising electrical outlets so you don’t have to bend over to plug something in. Another good idea is to put electrical outlets on countertops or in backsplashes.

One final tip: be sure to check your home insurance whenever you remodel. The changes you make may increase the value of your house, so you want to check that you have enough coverage when it’s time to renew.