Stay active

Smart changes will ensure you stay active as you age.

Many of us would like to stay in our homes as we age. Our ability to do so could depend on how easy it will be to get around the house if we develop physical limitations. “We’re living longer, but our homes are not holding up to aging as well as we are,” says Terri VanIwarden, who runs the Home Lift Store in Orlando, Florida.

There are simple and sometimes inexpensive ways to tweak renovation projects to make your home more suitable. Home-accessory and appliance manufacturers offer sleek, stylish designs that are functional for the young and old alike. And making just a few of the changes discussed here might increase your home’s resale value.

Following are some ideas to consider when you are replacing fixtures or appliances or doing home renovations. The prices were supplied by the experts we talked with but could vary depending on the cost of labor and building materials in your area.

Remove entrance barriers

A raised surface at the bottom of a doorway could be a tripping hazard for anyone with limited mobility and especially problematic for people using a walker or a wheelchair. A portable or fixed ramp will solve the problem. To install one, any surface above the floor level within a doorway. then install and fix the ramp in place. The devices cost around $150-200

If you have a choice, to install an elevator or stairlift, either of these will cure the issue with the stairs.  A Stairlift is not as much in cost as an elevator.  But, both types of equipment will work depending on your choice.  An elevator does add value to the home for resale value, as a stairlift does not.  We do also offer Stairlifts via our Rental Program, should you be interested.

Ease outdoor mobility

When it comes time to replace stairs leading to an entry door, you might want to install a ramp instead. The cost to build one depends on how much ground it needs to cover and the materials you use. You might want to hire a pro for this project to make sure the ramp is secure.

Wood is one of the most inexpensive materials to use, but it has to be routinely protected with a sealer or varnish to prevent rotting and warping, and nonslip strips must be added. Concrete is more expensive but requires less maintenance. Before it dries, concrete can be brushed to add anti-slip properties. If your doorway is, say, 6 inches above ground level, your ramp should be 6 feet long to ensure its slope is not too steep. A ramp of that length with railing in pressure-treated wood might cost around $1,500; in concrete, almost twice as much.

Replace uneven walkways with wide, flat ones. “Aim for pathways that are 4 feet wide, so they can be safely used by people with uneven gaits or in wheelchairs, and add a texture to make them nonslip. Avoid stone because the surfaces tend to be uneven.

All around the house

Install more lighting. You might want to add additional light fixtures above stairways, as well as in bedrooms, living rooms, family rooms, and any place you like to read. Add lights as needed to outdoor pathways. Also, consider replacing hard-to-reach fixtures that have single light bulbs (especially if they illuminate staircases) with ones that hold multiple bulbs. That way, if a bulb burns out, you will still have some illumination until you get around to replacing it. Rocker-style light switches are especially easy to turn on and off.

Replace old doorknobs. Lever handles are easier to use than doorknobs. You can find lots of styles and finishes at Amazon and big-box stores. Prices start at about $10 each and go up to $100 or more.

Eliminate tripping hazards. Replace throw rugs with low-pile carpeting or nonslip flooring.

Consider an elevator. 

Installing an elevator might run you anywhere from $20,000 to $40,00. But, having one could allow you to stay in your home. “Mobility issues are generally the first reason people move into assisted-living facilities,” Owens says. The median cost of a one-bedroom unit in an assisted-living facility in 2011 was $39,132, according to an annual survey conducted by Genworth Financial. And Terri says an elevator will add value to your home if you decide to sell. “New owners will likely want to stay in the home as long as possible, too,” he says, “so an elevator will be an attractive feature.”

Where to get advice, Home Lift Store works with Builders who are Certified Aging in Place Specialists who can suggest ways to update your home that will fit your needs and budget as you age. To get assistance, you need to call us at 800-481-6169 or email us at [email protected], and one of our aging-in-place specialists will assist you every step of the way.