Renovating if you’re a senior

A lot of people who are aging aren’t ready for retirement homes, and they don’t want to downsize either. They have a lot of belongings they love that they aren’t ready to get rid of. They want to upgrade their homes and stay in them as long as they can. Here are some tips for the things they should keep in mind.

Arthritis hits a lot of us. When you’re replacing faucets, look for ones that have paddle handles that you can push and pull,  instead of turn knobs. Pushing and pulling are a lot easier than turning and twisting (just think of how much harder that lid on the peanut butter jar is to twist off now than it was twenty years ago.)

We’ve gone through a stage in kitchens where cupboards run all the way up to the ceiling. It’s a look I love; I’ve done the same with all my kitchen cupboards. But as you age, how comfortable will you be standing on a stool or a stepladder to get items out of those high shelves? If you’re renovating your kitchen, think about how to maximize space in lower areas, with islands, for example. And make sure to leave enough space around those cupboards for wheelchairs and walkers.

Bathrooms are another area where a little planning can pay off later. Upgrading your shower? How about getting one that has a bench? Be sure it’s big enough to hold a walker. And there are step-in tubs that are just as lovely as the ones that you have to climb into, and a whole lot safer for those who are a little less mobile. Be sure to install grab bars. And think about floor tiles that have a little texture and won’t be slippery when they get wet; same in the kitchen.

Front steps can keep you out of your house altogether if you end up having to use a walker or a wheelchair. Think about installing a ramp before you need one. Your delivery men will love you; so will your snow removal service. There’s a home in McKellar Park that I admire whenever I pass by; it has a wheelchair ramp and the most beautiful landscaping imaginable to integrate it as a feature. We’re going to see more ramps as boomers age; there’s nothing wrong with getting ahead of this curve.

Slips and falls seem to be the most common injuries that I hear of among seniors. Make sure that your stairs have carpet runners and railings. There are beautiful choices on the market for carpet runners now — even Canadian Tire carries a selection.

And finally, make sure that doorways are wide enough for wheelchair access. The people I know who found themselves in wheelchairs didn’t expect to be in them. Accidents happen, and the recovery time for seniors is longer than for younger folks. No one sends us a notice ahead of time to tell us when we may suddenly get hurt. Planning ahead now can make a difficult time a little easier.


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2 Responses to Renovating if you’re a senior

  1. Jayne says:

    Nice summary, Peggy. I emailed it to my elderly parents.

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