In 2011, the AARP did a survey of older homeowners and found most of them preferred to “age in place” instead of moving into a nursing home or other form of senior housing.
“The overwhelming majority of people want to stay in their homes,” age-in-place consultant Alissa Boroff told The Minneapolis Star-Tribune in 2014. “But the way we’re building homes, we’re not supporting their needs. There’s not enough universal design so people can age gracefully.”
Universal design refers to the concept of building homes so that they work for people at every stage of their lives. When that’s not the case, many homeowners wind up taking a proactive approach to aging and redesigning their homes to fit their eventual needs.
The Star-Tribune profiled a few couples who had remodeled their homes to make them more accessible. One added a bathroom with a walk-in shower and wheelchair accessible sink, while another added a bedroom and bathroom to their first floor.
The story also found that businesses had embraced the age-in-place movement. The owner of an interior design store said he had remodeled one of his showrooms to display how bathrooms could be made wheelchair accessible.
The aging-in-place phenomenon can be found throughout the country. According to the National Aging in Place Council, more than 70 percent of homeowners who renovate do so to plan for the future needs of their parents, or themselves.
The trend has become so common that the National Association of Homebuilders has created the Certified Aging in Place (CAPS) designation for builders and remodelers who are trained in Universal Design Principles.
“With a few home modifications, you can create an environment where one can age gracefully. Most importantly, studies show that aging adults are healthier and happier if they remain in their current homes.” says Bart Zito, President of PBS Construction, said on the Age in Place Council website. “The renovations should incorporate your signature tastes, be appealing, and thus value-enhancing. There is no need for accessible home improvements to ever look or feel institutional in any form or fashion. An experienced CAPS Specialist can fuse innovative design elements with the highest craftsmanship.”
According to Zito, some of the most popular changes requested by clients include:
- Barrier-free bathrooms, with a walk-in shower. These showers typically feature a stool, and should have an entry threshold of four inches or lower to eliminate tripping. They can also come with single-lever faucets and anti-scalding devices.
- Accessible kitchens, which involve reconfiguring the layout of a kitchen to make it more open, and adding cabinets with easy-to-use roll out shelves and handles versus knobs. Many homeowners also add new appliances at lower heights.
- Additions that would allow homeowners or their parents to avoid stairs, such as a first-floor master bedroom or even an elevator or dumbwaiter.
The Aging in Place Council lists some other modifications you can make to your home if you’re interested in staying in your home:
- Turn your doors and thresholds into no-step entries.
- Install grab bars and an elevated toilet in your bathrooms.
- Make sure there is ample maneuvering clearance in your bedrooms.
- Install rocker light switches that are easier to turn on and off.
- If you enjoy gardening, raising the flower beds and vegetable patches to reduce fatigue and strain on your back.
Stair Lift Rentals in PA
In addition to all these things, you can also make your home more accessible by installing a stair lift. Rather than turning a downstairs room into a bedroom or converting your bathrooms, a stair lift allows your home to retain its original character.
If this sounds appealing to you, contact PA Stair Lifts. We’ll help you make an informed decision about the stair lift, whether it’s the installation process, repairs and the ultimate removal of the lift. We can tell you whether it’s in your interest to buy a new, used or custom lift, and which accessories may work for you. We can also provide stair lift rentals if your situation isn’t a permanent one.
Our stair lifts can change your life, by allowing you to make sure you won’t have to change your home.