It doesn’t have too cost much to make a few simple changes to your home that could allow you to live there longer. Here’s a list of low-cost ways to make your home, or your parents’ home, more comfortable and accessible.
For starters, you’ll want to focus on the two areas that can become the biggest barriers as you get a little older: doorways and the bathroom. It's wise to get rid of the steps approaching at least one of the home's entrances.
You could replace the steps with a small, natural ramp with some grading and landscaping. A tip: Your ramp should be one foot in length for every one inch of rise to your threshold. Otherwise, the slope will be too high and someone approaching in a wheelchair will stall halfway up.
For stairs where a ramp isn’t feasible add additional lighting to reduce the risk of falls.
Widen the front doorway to the home so it’s at least 36 inches, the width that a wheelchair or walker needs to fit through without scraping the sides.
Same goes for interior doors to bedrooms and bathrooms, which are typically only 30 inches wide. Can’t afford construction? Fit your door with a swing-out hinge that will add two to three inches to the width. Find the hinges at hardware stores or online.
Next, make your bathroom more comfortable to use now and in the future. If you’re having trouble getting up and down when you use the toilet, add a steel toilet safety frame with arms to help you lift and lower yourself. You can find them at stores that sell medical aids for less than $50.
Don’t like the look? Install a grab bar on the wall next to the toilet. You can find grab bars in all kinds of stylish finishes and designer colors, so get one that matches your bathroom’s décor.
A higher-end solution: Swap your old 14-inch-tall toilet for a new “comfort-height” model with a seat that’s 17 to 19 inches from the ground, more like the height of a chair.
It’s true that grab bars in the bathroom were once associated with disabilities, but so many people of all ages are buying them that the stigma is on its way out. Besides the one next to your toilet, place one or two on the shower walls. They’ll help you hang on if you slip, and your visitors will use them for the same reason.
A tip: You need to anchor the grab bar to a wall stud or with a toggle bolt that has a guaranteed weight rating. Otherwise, it could pull right out from the wall, and send you flying, if you lean or pull on it.
Most people use their showers far more often than their bathtubs, so consider replacing your tub with a curbless shower. Have a bench and a hand-held spray installed at the same time, so you can sit while you shower. If you’re still stepping over a curb to get into the shower, you could trip. And if you find in the future that rolling into the shower in a wheelchair is easier than walking into it, you’ll be glad if you have a curbless shower floor.
Most people want to live independently no matter what their age. Making a few future-minded improvements to your home now can help keep you comfortable and safe at home for years to come.
Blog Article: 12 Low-Cost Aging in Place Ideas, Including Projects to Do Yourself