By Jesse Morado, CR, director of production at MOSAIC Group [Architects and Remodelers], a metro Atlanta based design/build remodeling company.
Whether baby boomers are attempting to sell their homes in the current economy or remain in them for the long term, they would be wise to consider remodeling improvements that facilitate multi-generational living. These improvements serve two purposes. They increase accessibility for aging residents and they add value, making the home attractive to potential buyers when the time comes to sell.
Here are some renovations that can facilitate aging in place.
- Doorways – Expand the doorway(s) into at least one common bath to either 32 or 36 inches in width. Wider doorways allow freer access to wheelchairs and other mobile assistance devices.
- Toilet – Low-flow, comfort-height toilets save on water usage and facilitate transferring on and off the toilet from a wheelchair.
- Shower – Bath tubs are difficult to get in and out of and contribute to a number of injuries related to falls. Walk-in showers with a non-slip surface make more sense, allowing easier access. Shower fixtures should be anti-scald rated with lever handles for easy use.
- Lavatory – Wall-mounted lavatories provide easier access to the sink and faucet for owners using wheelchairs. Use faucets with lever handles or integrate faucets with sensors to save on water and to assist those with rheumatory ailments.
- Grab Bars – Since injuries related to falls in bathrooms are on the increase, consider integrating decorative grab bars in bathing areas and around the toilet.
- Dishwasher – A drawer-style or elevated dishwasher reduces bending to load and unload dishes. They also ease access for those who may require a wheelchair.
- Cook top/Range – Controls should be upfront so the cook doesn’t have to reach across a heated surface or open flame.
- Faucet – Faucets with lever handles and pull-out sprayers are easy to use and access.
- Lighting – Add task lighting under wall cabinets and above the sink, range, and food preparation areas for better visibility.
Integrate tile or composite flooring materials with non-slip surfaces to reduce slips falls in the bathroom. These products also facilitate traction of wheel chairs and walkers.
These systems can manage lighting, control heating and cooling systems, monitor energy usage, control audio and video equipment, increase security and notify you or other family members via a smart-phone in the event of an emergency.
Thresholds to at least one exterior entrance should be barrier-free so that stepping up to access the home isn’t required. The entrance most frequently used is your best candidate.