Seniors are increasingly choosing to live in a home outside of senior or assisted living. This process of aging in place is preferable for some older adults for several reasons. Living at home provides independence and avoids the fear that some seniors have about being put away in a nursing home. Even those who need daily assistance may still be able to maintain the dignity of living in their own home. Many senior-appropriate houses are available in today’s real estate market. Real estate professionals understand the demand for these types of homes, so there are numerous directories and resources online to help narrow down your search. Here are some key features to look for while you research accessible housing in your area, and some resources for having modifications done after purchase.
Senior accessible home features:
- Flat floor plans. An ideal senior home is one level and built in a ranch or bungalow-style. These styles typically do not have raised areas, but some designs do, so be sure to watch out for steps and raised thresholds throughout the home.
- Lowered countertops. High countertops and kitchen island dining areas are tricky for many seniors to use. If a senior uses a wheelchair, a high counter is useless. By lowering these surfaces and creating wheelchair space below them through lower cabinet removal, you can make kitchens and bath areas more usable.
- Entry ramps. Stairs can be dangerous and inconvenient for many older adults, not just those who use a walker, mobility scooter or wheelchair. A ramp is necessary for those with a mobility device, but can help those who have occasional joint pain or problems as well.
- Wide doorways. Most doorways in houses cannot accommodate wheelchairs. Attempting to navigate an inaccessible home with a wheelchair is either impossible or causes what accessibility remodelers call “knuckle burns” – where people bang their hands each time they try to go through a passageway.
- Senior-friendly appliances and plumbing fixtures. Arthritis or other conditions affecting joint mobility may make using standard faucets and appliances uncomfortable. Bathrooms can become challenging for older adults. Walk-in tubs and showers with grab bars and seats are some fixes to make a bathroom safe.
- Neighborhood features. When looking to downsize into an accessible senior home, it’s important to consider the location, too. Choosing a neighborhood that is in close proximity to shopping, recreation, church and medical providers will help if driving becomes limited in the future. Many localities offer senior busing to appointments and shopping, so be sure to inquire if these services exist where you are looking to move.
Getting help with accessibility modifications
Most likely, you won’t find a house on the market that meets all of your present and future accessibility needs. In such a case, you may need to make some modifications to optimize a new home. Several accessibility modifications are DIY-friendly, such as installing grab bars and installing easier-to-use appliances and plumbing fixtures.
If you are overwhelmed by the the idea of retrofitting your new house into a safer living environment or if you just aren’t all that handy, there are professionals who can help. A specialty niche in home remodeling has emerged due to the growing trend of aging in place, including a certification for builders who go through training. More information is available at NAHB.org.
There are funding resources for certain accessibility modifications too. In addition, several states, local governments and the federal government provide either tax deductions or grant programs to help offset the cost of accessibility.
There are several options for seniors looking to age in place. Downsizing can help seniors live simply and safely.
Also see Retirees Guide for Downsizing for additional resources!
Photo Credit: Pixabay
Provided by Seth Murphy of PapaDIY.com