Aging in Place – Simple and Inexpensive Home Updates for The Elderly

Aging in Place. A term you’ve likely never thought of, or even heard of, until you or someone you love needs it. . The term refers to being able to safely live our lives in our home, as we reach our senior years. 

Entering into the golden senior years comes with changes. Desires change. Dreams and goals. Lifestyles change, and right along with it, the body and mind can change as well. For many, this does not need to mean the loss of independence – even if we do need a helping hand now and then. 

On your own or with the help of a skilled Handyman, simple updates can be made to make the home an easier place to live as we enter into our senior years. Avoid spending too much money or making large changes that could negatively impact the home’s resale value. The list below will guide you through simple changes for mastering aging in place. 

Aging In Place Home Modifications

Installing Grab Bars in Bathroom

Having assistance to lower yourself down to a toilet, or for support, as you enter into the shower goes a long way towards increasing independence in the home. 

This simple modification is inexpensive, and is great for not only the aging in place community, but for anyone with difficulty bending and standing without assistance. After a recent knee surgery, a small foot-long grab bar near the toilet provided much needed assistance for using the restroom without having to call for help. 

Grab bars can be purchased at any home improvement store, with prices ranging from $15-$100 according to an article on Nerd Wallet(1). But more expensive in this case does not always mean better. The most important factor is to purchase a grab bar that is ADA compliant (Americans with Disabilities). This certification on a grab bar identifies that the bar is meant to withstand the pressures of body weight. Find an ADA  style that fits your budget and style preference. Rest assured it will support you or your loved ones when you need it.

Grab bars come in many different length options, usually between 12-48 inches. The most common locations for grab bars are in the bathroom.

  • Toilet area – 18-24” grab bar near toilet to assist in lowering and standing up
  • Shower Area – 36” along side wall – provides balance during shower
    18-24” along back wall – assist walking in and out of shower

Grab bars are easy to install, and inexpensive. Adding them anywhere in the home where balance and support are needed is a simple modification for aging in place, and increasing independence for seniors or anyone needing an extra hand. 

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Install Lever Style Door Handles

Lever Style door handles are an easy modification to make.  Having a lever style door handle that can easily be moved up and down, instead of a knob that needs to be grabbed and turned makes a big difference. Especially for those who can’t grasp items tightly.

Purchase your lever style grab bar at any home improvement store, or any store that sell general homewares and decorations. 

Price points vary widely, but any lever style that fits your style and budget will work. Changing the door knobs is simple and quick, and can be prioritized by doing the most  used doors in the house first. Styles come with and without locks. If purchasing an option with a lock, make sure that the locking mechanism is easy to handle as well. A level style with a button lock is the easiest style to use for anyone struggling with hand mobility. 

Sink and Shower Faucets with Lever Controls

Shower and sink valves that require someone to grip and turn can be a challenge with the elderly.  Swapping out knobs on sinks and in the shower with lever style is an easy way to solve this problem, and relatively inexpensive too. 

New fixtures do not need to cost a ton, but it’s important not to skimp on quality. Spending around $200 for a new kitchen faucet, and about half of that on bathroom and shower fixtures will get you a solid fixture. It is recommended you hire a handyman or licensed plumber to help make the switch. Making sure the new faucets and handles are installed properly is important so that you do not get leaks, which are a safety concern of their own. 

Another cool feature available with newer shower valves are valves that come with temperature controls and safety mechanisms. This style of shower valve, called a Thermostatic Shower Valve provides more precise control over water flow and temperature. Plus with an anti-scald feature, you restrict super hot water from being turned on in the shower. This allows for peace of mind in any home, keeping all members of the family safe when showering.   

Sinks without Vanity or Under Storage

Having a sink on a pedestal without any storage or vanity under it is a huge help in increasing at home independence. For anyone with a walking-aid or wheelchair, this is a must. The website, Aging In Place(2) reminds us that being able to pull up close to the sink to wash hands, do dishes, clean vegetables, and so on is very important for ease of use as well as safety. 

Opt for low shelves or bins mounted to the wall if storage is needed instead. Vanities not only keep someone with a wheelchair or walking aid from being able to get close to the sink, but they can be too low for some to bend over and reach back into. Removing this safety hazard and opting for securely mounted shelves or cabinets at an appropriately raised level allows for easier access to both the sink, and to the items being stored. Two birds, one stone (or sink, in this case). 

Other Aging in Place Updates

  • Install motion or smart lights in hallways and bathrooms

Lights that turn on when you enter a room or smart night-lights that turn on when the house is dark is an easy and inexpensive way to keep your home safe and avoid fumbling in the dark. 

  • Pull out Shelves in Cabinets

Having cabinet shelves that pull out make it so much easier and safer to reach items in the back. Avoid having to bend over and reaching to access items in the back, risking a fall or a strained muscle. Installing shelves on sliders allow the contents to come to you. 

  • Utilize Lazy Susans in storage areas for easy access

Lazy Susans or a turn-style shelf makes accessing items across a table or even in a cabinet much easier, and a bit more fun! No need to stand to get the salt, or knock over medicine bottles when you’re looking for the tums in the back. Just turn the Lazy Susan for easy access to everything on the shelf. 

  • Ramps and Railings on stairways

There are so many reasons why stairs are a challenge. Mobility, wheelchairs, balance and stamina are all a factor when stairs are involved. Installing some pre-made ADA compliant railings or building a safety ramp can make coming and going from the home a whole lot easier. 

Financing Options for Seniors

No matter your financial situation, you should be aware that there are many local (depending on where you live – the State of California has many) and federal programs available to help finance home modifications for seniors. 

A great article on Daily Caring(3) reviews some common assistance programs. The article includes how to access funds from the Older Americans Act and what Medicare will and won’t cover when it comes to in-home elderly living. 

At Handyman Network we provide a 10% discount to any job over $199 for all Seniors and free estimates for projects of any size. Our fully licensed handymen, plumbers, and electricians would be happy to help. 

Hiring Help for the Job

The best thing about home modifications for seniors is that large gains in safety and home accessibility can be made with small changes. But it is so important to make sure that any upgrades to the home are done correctly. If not, the risk of further damage can occur. 

Avoid the stress, and be sure to talk with a local contractor or licensed Handyman before starting your aging in place modifications. 

At Handyman Network, we are a fully licensed and insured Handyman Service.  Enjoy peace of mind that your repairs and updates will be done the right way. Many of our Handymen have made the same updates to the homes of their loved ones, so we understand how important it is for the job to be done right. 

Give us a call today, we will love to come by for a free estimate on all labor, and can even help in selecting and purchasing the right materials for your aging in place oasis. 

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References:

  1. Nerd Wallet https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/mortgages/aging-in-place-home-renovations-for-seniors/
  2. Aging in Place https://aginginplace.org/home-remodeling-for-aging-in-place/
  3. Daily Caring https://dailycaring.com/7-sources-of-home-repair-assistance-for-seniors/

 

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