Retrofit Senior-Safe Home: Plenty of Do-It-Yourself Ways To Make Life Easier

December 5th 2011
Retrofit Senior-Safe Home:  Plenty of Do-It-Yourself Ways To Make Life Easier

For many seniors, living independently at home is a less costly and more welcome alternative to moving to a seniors facility. However, the design of our homes does not always address accessibility issues that sometimes come with growing older. Seniors can have some difficulty carrying out daily activities because of stairs, hard-to-reach switches and cupboards, bathroom fixtures that are awkward or narrow halls and doorways.

Some of these barriers can be eliminated without major home repairs or having a big impact on your budget. In general, adapting the space in a home to accommodate an aging resident should result in enough space for a wheelchair or walker. This includes wide aisles and doorways, large toe kicks and adjusted countertop heights. Here are some more specific bathroom ideas to keep in mind when remodelling for the future.

- Install a bowl that hangs over the edge of the vanity to accommodate a wheelchair.

- Install a single lever faucet with a retractable nozzle for easier reach.

- Have a mirror that tilts forward, for comfortable use by a wheelchair-user.

- Provide a side-entry walk-in tub, or convert your existing tub to a height-adjustable shower head.

- Install backing behind walls for grab bars, especially in the tub/ shower and toilet areas. If you are remodelling the bathroom and you are tearing out tiles around the tub, then it is a logical time to put in reinforcement for grab bars.

- Install faucets with single-handle controls or infrared sensors.

- Buy a special toilet or retrofit an existing toilet to raise the seat 17 inches from the floor.

- Include a large roll-in shower with a seat, separate the tub and shower, or replace the tub and shower combination with just a shower.