Vol. 3, Issue 5October 2011


Remodeling for Your Future

If you are remodeling your kitchen or bathroom, you probably already have thought about cabinets and fixtures. But as long as you are making changes, it might be easier and less expensive to include a few adjustments that can make it easier for you to stay in your home as you age. And, since the population as a whole is getting older, you might improve the value of your house if you decide to sell rather than stay.

If you are doing a significant remodel, you might want to ensure that your doorways are wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair and that you have ramps instead of steps. But even if you don’t want to make such major changes, there are still lots of little things you can do that will allow you to enjoy your home even if you lose some mobility or experience other problems related to aging.

In the kitchen, for example:

  • Focus your cabinet space in the middle. You might have trouble bending over or reaching high up, so make sure you have adequate cupboard space where it is easy to reach. Add roll-out shelves in low cabinets. You also might consider replacing a stand-alone stove with a built-in oven that is a little higher off the floor.

  • Make sure you have adequate lighting, especially in work areas. Add lighting under your cabinets, for example. You can use a dimmer switch to lower the lights for a romantic dinner.

  • Choose flooring that has texture for good footing and that is easy to clean. And don’t use rugs, which can cause you to slip and fall.

  • Choose handles or levers instead of knobs for cabinets and doors; they are easier to open if you develop weakness or arthritis in your hands.

  • Put in a motion-sensor faucet so you can turn on the water without having to struggle with a faucet handle.

  • Make countertops adjustable in height, or have counters of different heights. That way you can work at the counter whether you are standing up or sitting down in a chair or wheelchair.

  • Choose rounded counters so you don’t bump into sharp edges and bruise yourself.

In the bathroom:
  • As in the kitchen, install motion-sensor faucets and handles or levers instead of knobs, and make sure you have plenty of lighting. Also, choose flooring that is non-slip, and don’t use rugs.

  • Install grip bars in the bath/shower and by the toilet to give you something to hold on to.

  • Install a scald-protector or turn down the thermostat on your water heater so that you won’t accidentally burn yourself.

  • Put in a toilet that is higher than normal, so that it is easier for you to get up and down.

  • Put a bench or seat in your tub or shower.