Remodeling For Baby Boomers

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Baby Boomer couple

Being almost 60, I can appreciate this topic. My hands don’t work as well as they used to, but that’s the only sign of age I exhibit. It would make sense, though, for me to remodel with the next 20 or 30 years in mind. The first thing I would do is to replace all my round doorknobs with lever handles. My girls and I call them old-lady handles! You probably can see why.

Issues for seniors besides arthritis are reduced vision and hearing, loss of balance and decreased flexibility and movement. Homes can be easily remodeled to accommodate the gradual onset of these ailments.

In fact, you can think ahead and do a little upgrading with each repair, improvement or remodel. This way, you can avoid accidents, too. It’s easier to decide to stay at home and work on the house than it is to have an accident, because the house is not senior-friendly.

A home that progresses with you

According to AARP, almost 90% of seniors want to stay in their homes instead of going to a retirement village, nursing home or the home of a relative. They feel more independent in their own home, and it offers a sense of security and peace that is important for their final years. Familiar surroundings are good for their mental and physical well-being, too.

Besides, retirement villages and nursing homes are very expensive, and the care may not be adequate. A remodel and home-based care would cost less than relocating. A home equity loan can be obtained to finance the work.

Small changes make for big differences

Small things that can be done for arthritic hands are installing lever handles on doors and installing single lever faucets.

In the kitchen, stove controls should be in the front and not on the back panel. Drawer and cabinet pulls should be easy to grasp. The dishwasher can be raised off the floor and a wall oven can be installed to reduce bending. Adjustable countertops accommodate those who can stand and those in wheelchairs. Roll-out drawers in lower cabinets reduce the need for bending and stretching, and grab bars in bathrooms address loss of balance.

Electrical outlets can come up away from the floor and switches can be lowered. Light switches should actually be replaced with rocker switches.

Strategic changes

More extensive additions are wider doorways and hallways to accommodate a wheelchair or someone on crutches. Ramps and wide walkways with handrails need to be built outside. Walk-in showers with seating are good for people unsure of their balance. Extra lighting in hallways, porches, garages, the kitchen, bathrooms and at the home’s entrance can help with reduced vision.

Carpeting should be eliminated throughout to prevent tripping and falling. Floors should have a textured, non-slip surface. Thresholds in doorways should be lower, too, but sometimes they are eliminated altogether. If possible, daily needs should be taken care of on the first floor. Maybe a bedroom needs to be relocated downstairs along with a remodeled bathroom.

Remodeling for aging-in-place is a big building trend for 2013. With us boomers coming to retirement and our golden years, it makes sense to act on it now. It’s practical, wholesome and good for the construction industry. I love a win/win!

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Nan Fischer

Nan Fischer has been living and building green for over 35 years. Nan’s emphasis on the BuildDirect blog is about how to make your dollar stretch further, while also moving toward a more sustainable lifestyle, as well as upcoming and existing technology to help us live in an ecologically-friendly way. Nan also authors posts on the website of her seed business, sweetly seeds.