Home Renovations for Seniors – Home remodeling can cost thousands of dollars, but it’s cheaper than the alternative. An assisted living facility can run about $43,000 a year, says the Cost of Care survey from Genworth Financial. Renovating so that you can age in place can be a smart move.
Contacting your county’s Area Agency on Aging can be helpful, as can seeing about community development departments and local government programs. Check out grants from organizations such as Rebuilding Together, which is a national nonprofit that helps with repairs and home modifications to promote health, safety and independence.
Here are some remodeling suggestions:
- Expand doorways to accommodate a wheelchair or other mobility device. The cost varies, especially if the expansion entails moving and rewiring light switches, but you can expect to pay from $400 to $600 each.
- Install lever-style doorknobs. Levers are easier to grip than are round doorknobs, and they don’t require a twisting motion. This is a plus if you’re feeling arthritis pain or are experiencing any condition that limits motion.
- Lever-style doorknobs can be a do-it-yourself task, or you can ask a contractor to help.
- Home improvement stores sell lever-style doorknobs starting at around $20 each.
- Put grab bars in bathrooms. These bars can help prevent falls. You can find them in home improvement stores for about $20 to $30 each.
- To have them professionally installed runs about $100 per bar, with materials included.
- Some senior organizations have installers who will come by and put in grab bars free of charge. You should see if such accommodations exist in your neighborhood.
- Replacing flooring with slip-resistant material. Vinyl, linoleum, bamboo and cork have good traction and can be more forgiving than tile or hardwood would be if you fall.
- Expect to pay about $3 to $4 per square foot to buy and install vinyl or linoleum floors.
- Cork averages about $5 and bamboo costs between $5 and $7 per square foot.
- Replace and repair any damaged areas — uneven tiles and other defects pose trip-and-fall hazards for people of all ages.
- Add a wheelchair ramp. A ramp eliminates the need to climb stairs to enter the home. The average cost to build a wheelchair ramp is about $1,500.
- Adjust kitchen countertops. If you end up using a wheelchair and need to access them to prepare food, you’d prefer the countertops to be 30 inches off the floor. Costs vary depending on kitchen size, but to remodel about 30 linear feet of space, budget at least $5,000.
- Install a chair lift or elevator. If your home is on multiple levels, an elevator or chair lift that attaches to stairs can help. The average cost of a motorized chair lift is between $3,000 and $4,000, while an elevator installation often exceeds $20,000, according to HomeAdvisor.com.
- Think about bathroom mobility. Toilets at a comfortable height, step-in tubs, and showers with no curbs add safety and convenience.
The National Association of Home Builders has a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist designation for contractors who help homeowners remodel to accommodate elderly loved ones. You can contact a CAPS professional to get advice on modifications, plan a renovation and find qualified contractors.
Medicare or private insurance covers medical equipment that’s installed in the home but not remodeling projects. There are limited home improvement grants, depending on your income and where you live. The Department of Health and Human Services’ ElderCare.gov website has details. You also might consider tapping home equity with a mortgage refinance or home equity line of credit.
Completing a home renovation can help you maintain independence and enjoy aging in place in familiar surroundings. Mobility and vision problems can be of concern as you age. In general, looking at architecture and design that addresses the needs of various age groups from toddler to senior citizens will help.
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