According to an AARP survey of people 45 and over, 75 percent of respondents would strongly prefer to live in their current home as long as possible. But how can you protect your independence while living safely?

An age-in-place remodel based on the principles of universal design can help many aging persons remain in their homes year after year. For a successful age-in-place remodel, plan early while you are still able-bodied.

Also, if you are worried about your home looking too institutional, there are many elegant products and designs that can fit seamlessly in any decor.

The following is a list of some typical age-in-place remodels and modifications:

General Modifications

  • Open floor space for easy wheelchair turns
  • Wide hallways and doorways for wheelchair access
  • Flush or minimal floor thresholds between rooms
  • Bed rails
  • Lighting upgrades
  • Rocker light switches
  • Motion sensor hallway lighting
  • Lever door handles instead of door knobs
  • Raised appliances (washer, dryer, oven, and dishwasher)

Kitchen and Bath Upgrades

  • Nonslip surfaces for bathtubs and shower floors
  • Bathroom grab bars
  • Wheelchair-accessible shower
  • Handheld showerhead with shower seat
  • Anti-scald temperature controls
  • Raised toilet seat with handlebars
  • Lever faucet handles instead of knobs
  • Pull-out shelves and lazy Susans for base cabinets

For Two-Story Homes

  • Handrails on stairways
  • Stair lift or elevator
  • Laundry chute or laundry room adjacent to master bedroom

Outdoor Modifications

  • No-step entryway or entryway ramp to front of house
  • Motion sensor outdoor lighting
  • Low-maintenance plants and shrubs

Hiring a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist

Unsure of what modifications will make your home more comfortable as you age? Consider consulting with a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS).

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), in collaboration with the AARP, the NAHB 50+ Council, and Home Innovation Research Labs, designed the program to equip remodelers and other building professionals with the skills and expertise to address the unique needs of homeowners looking to age in place.

From common modifications and remodeling projects to inventive solutions for your home, a CAPS can help you explore your options.

While you may have owned your home for decades, it’s important to prepare it to age with you and your unique needs.

Planning and executing an age-in-place remodel can take a lot of work, but you’ll be rewarded with additional years of living comfortably and safely in your home and community.

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