There are many reasons homeowners choose to remodel, from updating aesthetics, to improving functionality, to increasing resale value. Another common request we receive is for assistance in making accommodations for elderly parents. This can either involve our clients remodeling their own home to allow for parents to move in or remodeling their parent’s home to prepare for aging-in-place. Either situation can be difficult, as making provisions for elderly parents can be stressful and emotional. Our goal in assisting with age-in-place remodeling is to simplify the process for both the clients and their parents to make for the best experience possible!
Our team has done numerous age-in-place remodels and is familiar with the various amenities that can make it safer and easier for your parents to transition into their golden years. Here are the top age-in-place options we recommend to any of our clients that are facing this type of remodel:
1. Age-friendly Appliances and Fixtures
You don’t necessarily have to replace all of your appliances at once, but as you replace them over the next several years (either in your home or your parent’s home), look for designs that work well if mobility and dexterity may become an issue. For example, motion-sensor faucets in the kitchen and bathrooms are easier to operate than manual faucets. Under-counter microwave drawers are great alternatives to traditional microwaves as they are easier to access and are safer for lifting out hot dishes. A comfort-height toilet, which sits about two or three inches higher than usual, is easier to use for those that struggle with getting up and down.
2. Age-friendly Design Features in Kitchens and Bathrooms
If you’re considering a kitchen or bathroom remodel, it’s a perfect opportunity to include features that can be helpful later on. For example, we always suggest widening the doorways in bathrooms as a part of your remodel to allow ample space for a walker or wheelchair. We also almost always install blocking in the shower walls for grab-bars to be easily installed in the future. Having them already in place will save you time and money without requiring the whole wall to be opened up again. Replacing lower kitchen cabinets with deep drawers is great for optimizing space as well as improving accessibility. Curb-less showers, wheelchair-accessible vanities, and open-concept designs are also important considerations for aging parents.
3. Adequate Lighting Throughout the House
Our clients are always impressed with the difference strategically placed LED can lighting makes in the appearance of their home. Often times, this is a design feature that is overlooked by homeowners while they are planning their remodel or considering ways to update their parent’s home. Whether you’re replacing a rectangular box light in the kitchen, a single light kit in the living area, or a fluorescent vanity light in the bathroom, LED can lights improve the overall brightness and visibility of a space, making it safer and more comfortable for your aging loved ones. Above the standing area in the shower, over the staircase, or above the food prep station in the kitchen are all great examples of where can lights would be the most helpful for injury prevention.
Another neat idea to consider for better lighting throughout the home is to have sun tunnels installed. Sun tunnels are cylindrical tunnels lined with mirrors that reflect natural sunlight. They are surprisingly bright and look just like can lights from the inside of the home. These tunnels are significantly cheaper than large skylights and also save money over time as they do not require any electricity to brighten a space.
4. An Easy-access Entry
The majority of homes around DFW have some sort of steps at the entry, which could be an issue for aging parents in the future. If you currently have a two or three-step entry, consider a landscaping or concrete project that includes a gently inclined walkway, eliminating the need for stairs. Installing a wheelchair-accessible ramp is also an option, although having one installed in the very front of the home could make it more susceptible to break-ins; disabled or elderly homeowners are often easy targets for burglars. If a wheelchair ramp is required, try to have it installed in the back or at a side entry of your home where it’s not as visible to those passing through the neighborhood.
5. Small Modifications
While some age-in-place updates may require major structural remodeling, there are many small updates that can easily be done in one afternoon. Some of these potentially “do-it-yourself” projects include swapping out all round doorknobs for levers, installing sensor faucets, replacing the flooring with non-slip options, and adding a pull-down seat in the shower. Even if these minor things don’t seem important now, they tend to be something you’ll be glad to have later on.
The best thing you can do if you want to prepare yours or your parent’s home for aging-in-place is to work with a designer that is knowledgeable and experienced in that area (like Medford Design-Build!) There are so many things that can easily be overlooked, especially if you are completing a major remodel and want to include age-in-place features. A designer that knows what features and amenities should be included will ensure nothing is missed when it comes time to complete the construction.
Our handyman division, Mike’s Guys, is also able to help with the smaller modifications mentioned above if a full-scale remodel is not necessary.
If you are considering remodeling your home for your parents to move in or would like to discuss changes that need to be made in your parent’s home, we would be happy to chat with you about it. Our team of designers can determine the best options to meet your needs, for both the present and the future! Contact us today for more information!
The Medford Design-Build Team