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!
For many, home remodeling might seem like an optional luxury. Sure, a modern, updated bathroom or kitchen sounds nice, but is it really necessary? You might be surprised to hear that in many cases the answer is yes. More and more homeowners are choosing to remodel; not only for aesthetic purposes, but for improved functionality as they age. According to AARP, 87 percent of adults age 65+ want to stay in their current home and community as they age. Among people, age 50 to 64, 71 percent of people want to age in place. It makes perfect sense that if you’re planning on living out the rest of your life in your current home, structural changes should be made to accommodate your transition into your golden years.
As much as we hate to think about it, aging is inevitable. Things that might seem easy for you today – tasks as simple as turning a round doorknob or stepping over the edge of the bathtub – might be challenging for you several years from now. The best time to do renovation projects that will help you age comfortably in your home is when you don’t yet need those features. Putting it off until something happens could end up costing you more and become a much bigger hurdle than if it were done ahead of time.
While some aging in place updates are structural, such as replacing a shower-tub combo with a curb-less shower or widening doorways to accommodate wheelchairs, there are many 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, adding a pull-down seat in the shower, and installing a grab bars in the bathroom. These are small changes that might seem insignificant now, but you may appreciate having them later. Even an expensive project can be worth the investment if it prevents the need to relocate later on. This is especially true if you consider the high cost and emotional impact of moving into an assisted living center because your home is no longer suitable for your needs.
Another reason it’s better to remodel for aging in place now, if you anticipate a big-ticket renovation, is that qualifying for a home equity line of credit or home equity loan is typically easier when you are still working. If you wait until you only have retirement income, it may be harder to qualify for a loan. Also, if you are able to do so, financing a renovation now will allow you time to pay it off prior to retirement.
Aging-in-place design, also called barrier-free or universal design, means making updates to an interior to create a safe and accessible environment for everyone, including those that are aging, may be disabled or need the assistance of a walker or wheelchair.
When we think of this kind of design, the first things that come to mind are ramps, grab bars, or chair lifts – features that might seem extreme, out of the ordinary, or specific to older or disable individuals. However, this isn’t always the case. In fact, many universal design features are not unusual requests among homeowners. Wider doors and hallways, for example, are common remodeling requests that make a home feel more spacious and can also benefit those that need universal or barrier-free designs.
Aging in place means preparing of your home to be a comfortable and safe environment as you get older through the installation of universal designs. Things like grab bars, shower seats, wheelchair accessible doorways, chair lifts for stairs, and curbless showers are all options that can be installed to help prevent falls and injuries within the home. One popular universal design choice among aging in place homeowners is walk-in tubs.
Traditional step-in showers and tubs can be dangerous to seniors or people with mobility issues. Walk-in bathtubs can be an easy solution to this problem. These unique tubs are designed with a door on the side, allowing for individuals to walk in and shut the door behind them, minimizing the risk of slipping or losing balance that is often presented when stepping into or out of a traditional tub.
When most people think of retirement, the first thing that comes to mind is selling their house and relaxing for the rest of their days on a beach somewhere. The reality, however, is that the majority of retirees never leave their home. Most people opt to age in place and remodel their home to fit their needs. That isn’t surprising when you consider these 6 reasons remodeling is a better choice than moving:
- Home is where the heart is. Many people feel attached to their homes and the town they live in. Whether they grew up there or moved there to raise a family, there is something comforting about familiarity. Even if a new house or vacation home sounds good now, the old saying is true – there’s no place like home!
- Home is where your friends (and family) are. You go run errands and see familiar faces. You visit with family several times a week. Maybe you belong to a country club, or meet friends regularly for lunch, tennis or golf. Research says that a strong social network is crucial for successful aging. Friends and family not only supply emotional support, but can also offer practical benefits like loaning you an item of need or helping with a project at home. Why should you uproot yourself, move a thousand miles away from your family and then be faced with the sometimes difficult challenge of finding a new group of like-minded friends?
- You don’t save money by moving. It costs a lot to move. You give up about 10 percent of the selling price of your house in real estate commissions, legal fees and taxes. Then there’s the cost of buying, moving and resupplying your new house. If you’re moving a long distance there are additional expenses involved in traveling. You might need to rent for a while or store some furniture. It’s not worth it if you only save a couple thousand dollars a year in your cost of living!
- People want to retire in the last place they land. Many baby boomers and retirees have moved around for work or personal reasons much of their life and then finally put down roots when they’re in their 40s or 50s. By that time, they are tired of moving and want to stay settled where they are.
- It doesn’t have to cost a lot to age-proof your home. Many of the safety issues involved in age-proofing a home involve modest expenses. Improve the lighting in stairways and outdoor areas. Change out doorknobs for lever handles that are easier to manipulate. Install bathroom grab bars and raised toilet seats. None of these changes costs much money and can greatly improve the safety and functionality of your home as you age.
- Remodeling breathes new life into a home you already love. Your home is full of sentimental value and good memories. If you love your home and your neighborhood too much to move, remodeling is the perfect solution, allowing you to get the feel of a new home without losing what you already have.
If you are planning on retiring and living in your current home for the rest of your life, we’d be more than happy to assist you with aging-in-place renovations, as well as whole house remodeling services. Our Whole House Remodeling Planner provides you with everything to remodel your entire home, so it will be everything you need and more when you’re ready to retire! Contact us today for more information!
Did you know that falls are the leading cause of death due to injury in those 65 and older? According the CDC, 95% of hip fractures are caused by falls; 40% of those hospitalized for hip fracture do not return to independent living and 20% will die within a year. These disturbing facts prove that falls and the injuries that result are one of the most substantial health threats for older adults. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take now to ensure your home will be a safe place for you and your loved ones in the years to come.
We often get requests to convert a standard 5’ bathtub into a shower without a door, which can be done in many ways. One of my favorites is what I call the “cave shower.” The photograph shows one such “cave shower” we did for a client.
The wall is 30” wide, leaving a 30” opening. Having the wall and tile go to the ceiling—and tiling the ceiling—helps keep the steam in and gives the cave-like feeling. Using a wide shower head mounted up high causes the water to fall straight down so there isn’t much splash to the outside of the shower. The can light keeps it from being dark, and the soap niche mounted at the correct height is really handy. The wall makes a nice separator between the shower and toilet.
Check out this walk-in bathtub we recently installed, along with the great-looking tile surround. We are installing more and more walk- in bathtubs as a result of our aging population and our clients wanting to age in their homes rather than going to a retirement facility. This is a highly functional bathtub that is ideal for those who have problems getting in and out of a traditional bathtub. Simply open the door, step up about three inches, close the door, sit down, turn on the water and you are on your way to a safe and comfortable bath.