Washington - For many older adults, there's no place like their own home. The problem is that most houses are not designed to accommodate physical and cognitive challenges that come with aging.
Here are some home improvement ideas that might allow you to comfortably remain in your home rather than having to move elsewhere as you get older:
Invest in smart-home products
Technology is a game-changer for remaining independent in your home and staying connected with others, says Erik Listou, co-founder of the Denver-based Living In Place Institute, which trains professionals in the housing and medical fields on accessibility and safety in the home.
Sensors can keep a virtual eye on you and your home to improve comfort, security and energy efficiency. As you move around your home, the devices can report back to a caretaker or a loved one about your daily routine.
Voice-controlled personal assistant devices give you the ability to turn on or off household items such as lights, a TV or a thermostat. Moreover, with a push of a button, you can control connected-home systems around the house, including sprinklers, windows and locks.
Narrow doorways are problematic for people of all ages, but especially for people with limited mobility. Listou said if a resident or visitor is carrying groceries or using a walker or wheelchair, that's the perfect size for navigating through a home easily.
To make doors easy and safe to use, replace doorknobs with lever-type handles with end returns. These help prevent clothes from snagging on the knob or handle and keep hands from sliding off the end of a regular door lever handle.
Create an accessible bathroom
Consider replacing your tub with a walk-in shower instead of one with a step-over threshold. Install sturdy grab bars at the entrance to the shower, inside the shower and by the toilet to provide stability and support. A taller toilet will aid in sitting and rising. Bidets or bidet toilet seat conversions can significantly improve hygiene.
Modify the kitchen
Conveniences such as rollout shelves and a microwave oven at counter height can help you maintain independence in the kitchen. Ideally, you would have open space beneath the sink to provide wheelchair accessibility. An electric cooktop with controls on the front will eliminate the need to reach across hot burners. To avoid having to bend over, add seated work spaces for food preparation.