As more and more seniors choose to remain in their homes well into their golden years, it’s important to make some key upgrades to ensure your house is safe and comfortable.
From simple improvements like adding grab bars in the shower and installing a medical alert system, to bigger renovations like remodeling the kitchen to accommodate wheelchairs, here are five upgrades that will make it easier for you to stay in your home for years to come.
1. Future-proof the bathroom.
Many bathrooms are cramped and covered in slippery tiles, a dangerous combination for seniors. Prepare your bathroom for the future by installing textured tiles that are slip-resistant and rejigging the layout to ensure there’s plenty of space to accommodate wheelchairs, walkers or canes.
The shower and tubs also need to be fully accessible. Curb-less shower stalls and walk-in tubs allow easy access for a wheelchair, while handy grab bars will prevent falls. Since many bathrooms have only one overhead light, consider installing another light fixture in the shower stall or tub to keep the area bright.
2. Install a medical alert system.
Whether you’re a senior aging in place or living with a disability, an at-home medical alert system will keep you safe at all times and give your loved ones peace of mind. AlarmCare Medical Alert is a user-friendly system that gives you direct access to a response team that can connect you with a family member, neighbour or emergency services when needed.
AlarmCare’s technology comes with automatic fall detection, meaning a senior who falls and cannot activate the button on their medical alert system will still receive help.
3. Move the principal bedroom to the main floor
While going up and down stairs might not be an issue now, it could be challenging in the future. If the principal bedroom is located on an upper floor, consider moving it to the main floor of your house where it’s easier to access.
In your new bedroom, install vertical grab bars by the bed so those who have difficulty getting in and out can feel more stable. If the carpets are wrinkled in some spots, install new flooring to remove any potential tripping hazards. Finally, if you cannot relocate your bedroom onto the main floor, install extended handrails at the top and bottom of the stairs.
4. Re-model the kitchen for easy access
As the heart of so many homes, it’s crucial that kitchen is accessible for everyone. Many seniors like lowering their cabinets and shelves to make it easier to grab items, and adjusting the height of the countertops and sink so they’re accessible while sitting.
You may also want to consider your current appliances, too; a raised dishwasher eliminates the need to bend over, and a refrigerator with side-by-side doors can be easily opened without having to reach overhead. Like in the bathroom, the kitchen is prone to wet floors and spills. To prevent any falls, eliminate mats and install slip-resistant flooring instead.
5. Add some accessible curb appeal
When we think about home renovations for retirement, we often focus on the insides of the house and end up forgetting about the exterior. Pathways should be well-lit and clear of bushes, shrubs and anything else that could obstruct the path, and the front doors should be wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers.
While some homeowners might not like the look of a wheelchair ramp, they are incredibly helpful for those who experience mobility issues later in life. Look for a contractor, architect or interior designer who has experience in designing elegant ramps that will add stylish, safe curb appeal.