Recently, my husband and I moved from a large house in O’Fallon to a small bungalow in St Charles. We know this will be our retirement house and our GROWING OLD house. We knew, when we bought it, we would have to make some modifications to the home to make it AGING APPROPRIATE. As many do not move out of their homes to other homes, there are some modifications that can be made to make YOUR home AGING APPRORIATE.
- Accessible entry ways. If you have steps in the front of your home, consider getting a ramp built. Make sure the builder is aware of all building requirements for your community. Also make sure your builder builds the ramp at the right pitch. If the ramp is too steep it will make it hard to go up and down. You may also consider RENTING a metal ramp for your home. There are many ramp companies out there. Check them out through the BBB and get a firm quote to make sure there are no hidden fees.
- Doors: While changing out door frames can be expensive there are certain hinges that can add 2 in width to your clearance. Most hardware stores carry these hinges
- Lighting: As you age your eyes need more light to see. A single light fixture in a room may not be enough. Consider adding lamps around the room to distribute light evenly. Wall switches may also be too tall to reach if in a wheelchair. Consider investing in an instrument that can reach the switch and turn on and off the light. You can find many different varieties in medical stores or on Amazon.
- Laundry: Consider investing in a front load washer and dryer. Stackable or top loader can be very difficult to reach.
- Bathroom: I believe this to be the most important investment. If you cannot remodel then add Grab bars, non- slip mats, shower chairs and maybe a heater/exhaust fan to the existing bath. If you can remodel, make sure to do a zero entry shower with grab bars, shower seat and hand help shower head. To add a special flair a towel warmer would be wonderful!
- Kitchens: This is the most difficult room to get around in if in a wheelchair. You cannot get close enough to the sink, reach high cabinets or use the cooktop without struggles. Consider removing the cabinets under the sink, installing pull out shelves or a lazy Suzan. Stoves should have the controls on the front for easy reach. The refrigerator will work better if it is a side-by-side instead of a refrigerator with the freezer on the top or bottom.
While I have to admit I look at these items in others homes, when it came to mine, I slipped up a bit. We still have steps inside the home that maybe a challenge in the future and throw rugs throughut our house. We did remodel our bathroom and kitchen to make it easier when we age. I can see additional projects looming in our future.