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Home Modifications Can Help Seniors Stay Active Later in Life

Home Modifications Can Help Seniors Stay Active Later in Life

Home renovations are a common way to add value to a home. After all, even a minor kitchen remodel has an average ROI of 82.7%, so these projects are often well worth the effort. And while many remodels focus on upgrading fixtures and cabinetry or giving the kitchen a more modern look, there are some upgrades specifically geared towards seniors that can enhance functionality and their personal comfort.

These additions and redesigns can help seniors stay in their homes for a longer period of time. Since a vast majority of seniors express that they’d like to remain in their homes rather than living in senior housing facilities, planning ahead can be a real coup. And since the average home owner spends between 1-4% of their home’s value on maintenance and repairs regardless, making these adjustments early can help to alleviate the need for more exhaustive work on a home later on.

If your budget will permit a complete overhaul of your bathroom or kitchen, you should think about the physical changes you may experience in years to come. If you have minimal aches and pains in a certain area at present, give consideration as to how those ailments will affect you a few years down the line.

Heather Brin, principal architect for Aging in Place Architecture, says that “these renovations are all about maintaining independence. So if you have back pain now, then it’s smart to think about getting pullout shelves to minimize bending.”

Sometimes, it’s not easy to plan for injuries you might sustain as you get older. There are nearly 110 million emergency room visits that occur each year, and for seniors, it’s often more difficult to recover from even an innocuous fall.

Woodside, Queens resident Chandrakant Sheth has kept up his fitness levels by taking daily walks. But at age 81, he fell and fractured his right arm when a subway passenger plowed into him while getting off the escalator. Although Sheth finds it difficult to accomplish many daily tasks he previously took for granted, he’s able to navigate the bathroom quite well due to his preparations: he had installed a grab bar in the bathroom for his late wife years before.

The likelihood of such an incident is quite great for seniors. According to the CDC, more than one out of every four Americans over age 65 fall each year, and one in five falls leads to serious injuries.

If a big renovation isn’t in your budget, simple installments in the major rooms of your home can save your life or can allow you to remain at home. Commissioner of the Department for the Aging, Donna M. Corrado, says, “Something as simple and cost-effective as installing a grab bar can prevent debilitating falls and literally save lives.” Even replacing door knobs with lever handles or ensuring that you can access and navigate your home with a wheelchair or walker can be a significant help down the road.

Utilizing a moveable island in your kitchen can be helpful for those who need walkers and wheelchairs. It can easily be pushed out of the way as needed. For those with vision issues, extra lights and adding color contrast can help seniors to identify key areas, like the space between a stovetop and the counter.

Minor home modifications like these can range in price from several hundred dollars up into the thousands. While customization can be an asset if you have the money to spend, many seniors didn’t have the foresight to factor such home modifications into their budgets. No matter what type of renovations you choose, it’s important to make sure that an expensive renovation will last for years to come and won’t become obsolete as health problems worsen.

While no one likes to talk about health problems or getting older, some manufacturers are doing their part to open up the discussion. Moen, a popular brand for both bathroom and kitchen fixtures and products, has expanded its bath safety line over the past few years and offers stylish grab bars that complement other bath products in their line.

“When you remove the stigma that bath safety isn’t attractive, it invites consumers to purchase,” says Moen product manager, Chris Nealon.

For those seniors who wish to stay in their homes as they age, it’s imperative to make these improvements. Executive director of Rebuilding Together NYC, a nonprofit focused on helping seniors and disabled low-income residence improve their home accessibility, stresses the importance of planning early.

“Ideally, you shouldn’t rely on family members or friends to help you get around the house. You don’t want your own home to be a hazard.”