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How to Age In Place

Last update on: Feb 02 2017
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Most people want to stay in their homes for as long as they can. They don’t want to move to an assisted living facility or nursing home. Many don’t even want to downsize.

Your body might not cooperate, so to stay in your home you need to adapt and renovate it. It’s certainly possible to change a traditional home so that it suits someone with physical or mental limitations. But most people wait too long to make the changes. If you’re older and plan to remain in your current home for as long as you can, you need to make the appropriate changes in the home now. If you wait until you or your spouse has a medical problem, that’s going to cause additional problems. You’ll need the changes made in a hurry. It might not be possible, so that will mean a stay in a facility until the home improvements are done. It also means the renovations will cost more than they should, because you waited too long. This article makes the point and also discusses many of the changes you’ll want to make in a home.

If you’re doing a gut renovation, installing wider-than-average treads is recommended to increase the landing space for your feet. With an existing stairway, create contrast on each step. The award-winning aging-in-place model home that Beth Tauke, an assistant professor at the University of Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning, and director of the school’s Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDEA), designed for the NAHB included a stairway that alternated between taupe and beige low-pile carpeting. It “ended up being one of the most popular features of that home; people saw it as something they could easily incorporate,” she says.Throughout your home, bring appliances and work spaces into a sweet spot where you’re not reaching high or stooping low. With laundry, a front-end loader elevated 15 or so inches off the floor can make for easy access. (For ultimate ease, move the laundry out of the basement.) If it’s part of a renovation, a contractor can build a raised floor for both washer and dryer. Otherwise, front-loaders come with separate pedestal lifts that fit underneath. An LG washer on sale recently for $900 at homedepot.com has a matching pedestal for another $229. Not cheap, but neither is throwing out your back bending down to lift heavy wet clothes.

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