As the Baby Boomer generation ages, we’re finding ourselves in a national conversation about how to best take care of our senior population. At the top of the list of concerns is housing and home accessibility: what are the healthiest and most feasible types of homes for these loved ones with limited mobility?
Families with at least one member who has a physical disability benefit from the same type of home layout and modification advice.
The Need For Accessibility
“Aging in place” is one of the names given to the concept of being able to live in one’s own home safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level — 90% of seniors report that they would prefer to stay in their current residence as they age, and 1 out of every 3 households is home to someone over the age of 60
But it’s not just seniors who need home modification services; 13.7% of adults have mobility issues caused by a disability or injury that make it difficult for them to ambulate and climb stairs.
Someone “living in place” or planning to live in place has many decisions to make. What types of home modifications need to be done? Where do I begin? How much is it going to cost? What upgrades will I need, and how do I maintain them?
Home accessibility is possible for everyone. If you’re undertaking the research process, please know that we’ve been there in your shoes.
How to Get Started
Let’s look at some of the questions you should be asking yourself as you consider the home modifications that may be recommended in order to allow yourself or a family member to age in place, broken down by room:
- Can a resident enter the home without needing to navigate stairs? If not, do the stairs have a handrail?
- Is there a clear and smooth path from the driveway/street to the entryway, or is a ramp needed? If there is no entry at ground level, and the terrain won’t allow for a ramp to be built, a wheelchair lift may be needed.
- Does the sink area need to accommodate someone in a wheelchair? If so, it may need to be modified so that a wheelchair can roll partially underneath it.
- What does the shower or bathtub need in order to be safe for those who have trouble with balance? There are ways to create a walk-in bathtub with a bath seat, and even products such as bathtub lifts. Showers can also be outfitted with a seat and grab bars. More options include out-swing doors, hand-held showerheads, easy-transfer toilets, wheelchair turnaround areas, grab bars, non-slip surfaces, and easy-access storage.
- Does the counter height need to be adjusted to accommodate someone in a wheelchair? Accessibility experts say that counter height should be at 30-32 inches in order to provide a workable surface for a person in a wheelchair.
- Are all of the appliances front-operated and easy to reach? Care needs to be taken to ensure the mechanisms for their operation are reachable by those in a wheelchair.
- Are cabinets easy to access and operate? Are shelves within reach? Base level cabinets need to allow for knee space for someone in a wheelchair, and drawers actually tend to make items more accessible. Keep in mind that upper cabinets/shelves will not be accessible to someone in a wheelchair.
- Is the individual able to easily get in and out of bed? Again, there are lifts available to assist with this, as well as handrails and other types of equipment.
- What are the storage options? Does the closet need to be modified in order to be accessible? See tips above for accessible storage in kitchens; these rules also apply to storage in the bedroom.
Throughout the home, it’s also important to consider flooring. Is it non-slip? Does it provide cushion from a fall? Are doorways wide enough for a wheelchair to fit through comfortably, without bumping into the doorframe? Is a stairlift needed in order for a resident to access the second floor?
We founded National Access Corporation to help families who are choosing the path of aging in place. NAC is a one-stop-shop for all types of home accessibility solutions, from installing simple handrails to completing robust home remodeling for long-term needs.
Need some financial guidance?
Our team knows the best ways the help you find a sensible financial solution for your project. Speak with one of our reps today to learn more.