Make Home Accessibility Renovations to Take Advantage of Aging in Place
As seniors live longer and lead fuller lives, many opt to age in place. It is easier to do so when your home has undergone accessibility renovations because it will become an environment that supports your needs and ensures your safety and well-being. Your family members will rest assured that you can age in place happily when you have hired a great contractor to make those modifications for you.
1. Find the Right Contractor
When you are ready to modify your home to make it more accessible to support aging in place, your starting point is finding the right renovation contractor. Unfortunately, there are too many horror stories about contractors who take deposit money and never step foot on a property or contractors who claim to know how to make modifications but don’t have any experience doing so.
Your first step should be finding a contractor that is a member of Accessible Home Improvement of America (AHIA) and that is a Certified Environmental Access Consultant (CEAC) or can prove he is certified aging in place (CAPS). Hire a renovation contractor who is licensed and insured and who has a list of references you can contact to ask questions about his professionalism and timeliness.
2. Prioritize Your Needs
If you know that you are going to have limited mobility as you age in place, you should prioritize those needs with your contractor. For example, you should work with him to widen doorways to accommodate a wheelchair, put a walk-in or wheel-in shower on the first floor, lower kitchen counters and cabinets and install a stair lift so you can access any higher levels.
Some seniors who consult with a renovation contractor find that it is less expensive to purchase a single-story home and modify it than to make home accessibility modifications to their existing larger, two-story home. When you prioritize your needs, you’ll know the type of home that will best suit you as you age.
If you have some challenges with your vision, you should work with a licensed electrician to install lighting in the areas you frequently work in, such as in a kitchen or den. Or, you should work with a contractor to install larger windows or skylights to allow more natural light to penetrate your home and work areas. Other options include replacing solid doors with French doors.
3. Ensure Your Safety
As you age, you need to do all you can to avoid falling at home. Slippery hardwood and tile floors pose a risk to your health, as do throw rugs on these types of floors. Renovation contractors also can change your flooring to help ensure your safety.
When choosing a flooring material, you should consider five factors and then choose the material that will make you more secure and comfortable: slip-resistance, ease of travel, cleaning and maintenance, comfort, and cushion.
While carpet may seem like a better option for comfort, you need to choose the right carpet for your needs. For example, if your home has carpet with a high pile, you should replace it with low-pile carpet. Low-pile carpet has a smooth surface that allows chairs, wheelchairs and walkers and canes to move across it more easily. Low-pile carpet also is easier to clean and prevents allergens from getting trapped in the surface and contributing to allergy symptoms and other respiratory problems.
You will reap the benefits of aging in place -- from enjoying more independence, to feeling more comfortable in your own home -- if you work with a reputable contractor to make accessibility modifications to your existing home or to a new home that better suits your needs.
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