Perhaps it’s not surprising that a new study found that the majority of baby boomers would like to remain in their current homes as they age. AARP’s 2016 Age-Friendly Community Survey discovered that while many may want to remain in current residences, most would need to tackle at least some remodeling projects to be able to stay in their homes comfortably. Here are the top four aging-in-place remodeling projects most mentioned by consumers across 14 major metropolitan areas. Along with each project is our take on what makes these areas work better for aging in place.
- Bathroom modifications. This was by far the most-mentioned category, with a whopping average of 42% percent of all survey respondents saying they needed to make at least some changes in their bathrooms to remain in their homes as they age. Among the modifications we most often recommend to clients are eliminating stand alone bathtubs in favor of zero-entry showers with seats and pull-down shower heads. Higher commodes that require less bending are a simple and cost-effective change, no matter what your age. Widening doors and creating a larger, more open space that homeowners can more easily navigate with a walker, wheelchair, or other medical device is also essential.
- Improved lighting was a top request of nearly a quarter of survey respondents. As we age, it’s even more vital to have bright lighting everywhere, a well as specific task lighting where it is required. Think under cabinet lighting in kitchens, bright lights above an island and kitchen sink, nightlights that brighten automatically as you enter the master bathroom, accent lighting on stairs, and exterior lighting that illuminates key pathways at night.
- Easier accessibility was right behind, mentioned by an average of 22 percent of survey recipients. Most often, improving accessibility encompasses widening hallways and paths, creating zero-entry doorways and easing access to porches and decks with ramps. Seemingly smaller items that make a huge difference are eliminating or minimizing places where homeowners need to reach up or bend down, particularly if they are storing heavy or cumbersome items there. (Think about high pantry shelves filled with unwieldy appliances like blenders or crockpots.) Reworking storage spaces and shelving options to make everyday objects easier to reach will make a huge difference in your daily comfort as you age. This applies to kitchens, bathrooms, closets, pantries, garages and even office and living areas.
- Finally, additions to first floor living areas were mentioned by an average of 14 percent of respondents. Oftentimes, this means creating an accessible main level master suite in homes that lacked that feature. It can mean creating an open and livable main level floor plan that can be easily navigated.
- Perhaps surprisingly, standalone kitchen remodeling projects didn’t make the list, yet they are projects that we often ask clients to consider if they plan on remaining in their homes. Widening pathways, repositioning hard-to-reach appliances (such as microwaves above cooktops), adding touchless faucets, making sinks easier to access, rethinking cabinetry and pantries to offer easier-to-access storage, improving lighting, and adding helpful technology in logical places are just a few recommendations we make.
No matter what changes your home needs to make it more aging friendly, it can be a wise investment in both your future comfort and your family’s peace of mind.