Getting Your Home Aging-Independently Ready: Do a Little or Do a Lot?

Making the decision to add onto or renovate your home in order to ensure you can stay in it as long as possible is a big deal. You can do a little to your home, or you can make big changes. You can even downsize into a brand new home that's custom-built for your particular needs. The scope of work to provide you with an Aging-in-Place appropriate home runs the gamut. 

This article from AARP that sums up the costs of making basic changes to your living space to make it independent-aging ready. Here is a breakdown of their basics:

1. Accidents in bathrooms are one of the number one concerns as we age. Putting in non-slip tile and adding handrails and grab bars are a great way to head off would-be falls. You can have a custom wheelchair-ready shower built, or you can simply add suction cupped, non-slip mats to the bottom of the tub (if you're able to get in and out on your own). These changes start around $1000 for a customized shower -- that's one-fifth the cost of a month in assisted living. 

2. Doorknobs are harder to turn as we get older because our grip isn't what it used to be. So changing out existing knobs for handles that simply pull down is a simple and inexpensive way to make aging independently a reality.

3. We recommend that doorways be 36" wide in all new builds to accommodate wheelchairs, and certainly in a home you're wanting to stay put in as you age; it's absolutely possible to modify almost any existing doorway in your home to 36", accommodating wheelchairs and walkers easily. The article explains that materials can cost as little as $100 to start, but it's a good idea to consult a professional carpenter or framer to make sure the job is done right and done safely.

4. Have one entrance that's "step-free." This is absolutely essential if you or anyone living in your home requires mobility assistance. They will need a means of getting in and out of your home quickly and safely. If you don't have a ready area for a flat entrance, there are ways to work around it. AARP says this work can cost you $1000-$4000, and that's a good range. Remember that money is meant to prevent injuries and accidents later. Emergency workers are often faced with how to manage getting a person out of the house quickly while navigating steps with a wheelchair or a walker, and that extra time can be precious.

5. Eliminate rugs or securely tape them to the floor to keep them from tripping anyone up. Falls are a big deal as we age.

6. Hallway and staircase lighting can come in different forms (see our page of CAPS examples), but having it makes a big difference in your home's safety. Our vision deteriorates as we age, and being able to see your way to the bathroom or the kitchen is important, and could save you from unnecessary accidents along the way. 

What were the first changes you made to your home to get it Age at Home ready?