Today, more and more seniors are choosing to age in place, proactively making changes to their homes to reflect their shifting priorities and accommodate their evolving mobility and abilities. While many of us undoubtedly wish we could remain young forever, aging in place might be the next best thing – allowing seniors to stay in the familiar home they know and love, maintaining a good quality of life as they retain their autonomy and independence.
At MyLifetimeHome™, we understand the importance of creating a comfortable and safe environment for seniors to thrive in; so, in order to explore the best way to age in place, let’s go over seven essential home modifications that can greatly enhance the lives of seniors in Calgary.
The Benefits of Aging in Place
- Familiarity and comfort: Aging in place allows seniors to remain in the place they call home, surrounded by cherished memories, neighbours, and familiar surroundings. For many, this alone is often worth the effort to renovate a home.
- Independence and autonomy: One of the main worries of many seniors is becoming a burden on their younger family members. By adapting their homes to their changing needs, seniors can maintain their independence and continue to lead fulfilling lives, easing the caregiver burden.
- Emotional well-being: Aging in place provides a sense of comfort, well-being, and a strong connection to one’s community. In turn, this contributes to better longevity and a lifestyle that is still full of wonder and excitement.
What if my house isn’t set up for aging in place?
If your house is not currently designed for aging in place, don’t worry! Very few houses in Calgary are initially built with such considerations in mind (and we would know – we build many of the ones that are). Aging in place modifications don’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. Even small changes, such as installing grab bars in a bathroom or improving lighting in shadowy corridors, can make a significant difference. For bigger projects, there are grants for homeowners who are making their homes more accessible.
The most important thing to know is that it’s crucial to be proactive and anticipate potential mobility or ability issues that may arise in your future. Here at MyLifetimeHome™, our team of experts can guide you through the process of modifying your home to ensure it meets your specific needs, allowing you to age in place comfortably and safely; reach out today and we would be happy to provide you with each step of this journey.
What’s the Difference Between Modifications and Assistive Technology?
You might hear the terms “home modifications” and “assistive technology” used interchangeably, but they are not quite the same thing – even though there is overlap.
Home modifications involve making structural or layout changes to the house itself, such as widening doorways, providing curbless showers, or adding ramps to enhance accessibility and accommodate reduced mobility. They provide long-term solutions tailored to the specific needs of seniors, those living with a disability, or those aging adults without a disability who are simply wishing to have proactive measures in place to ensure their home truly can evolve into their Forever Home.
On the other hand, assistive technology focuses on incorporating devices or systems within the home, such as smart appliances or motion sensor systems that improve functionality and convenience. This technology offers immediate assistance and enhances daily living by automating routines, increasing safety, and adding genuine ease of use to many formerly difficult tasks. Striking a balance between home modifications and assistive technology creates an inclusive and accessible environment that allows seniors to age in place happily and without worry.
The Best Home Modifications for Seniors
1) Doorway Expansions
Expanding doorways is a highly beneficial modification that allows for easier passage, particularly for individuals using mobility aids such as wheelchairs or walkers. By widening doorways, seniors who can still walk can seamlessly move between rooms without the threat of catching a corner, greatly reducing the risk of being thrown off balance; those in wheelchairs will have more areas of their home opened up to them, allowing for greater enjoyment of all spaces. This modification is one of the most commonly selected, due to its relative ease and positive impact.
2) Ramps, Elevators, and Lifts
Installing ramps, powered lifts, or personal elevators provides seniors with safe and effortless access to different levels of their homes. For many who are in wheelchairs, devices such as elevators can be a miracle – opening up entire floors of the home that these homeowners may have never seen or used. These devices can also be used both indoors and outdoors, bypassing icy exterior stairwells or dark garage entryways. The potential of installing a ramp, lift, or elevator is dependent on the layout of the home, but we are confident that we can find a solution that works for you.
3) Accessible Kitchens
Upgrading kitchen cabinets and technology with features such as brighter lighting, pull-down cabinets, smart appliances, lowered countertops, and enhanced below-counter space creates a much more user-friendly environment for seniors. These changes remove barriers that many people may not even notice, like recessed microwaves or hard-to-reach faucets; in turn, this enables seniors to navigate the kitchen with ease, making meal preparation and daily tasks more manageable and enjoyable. With smart kitchen technology controlled from a phone or tablet and the right accessibility considerations, seniors can maintain their independence and continue to engage in one of life’s fundamental activities: cooking and sharing meals, something that replenishes not only our physical health but our mental health as well.
4) Safer Bathrooms
Bathrooms can pose significant safety challenges for seniors, due to a combination of factors such as steam interference, poor lighting, reduced space, limited mobility, and slippery surfaces.
Modifications here will ameliorate potential hazards to ensure a much safer outcome after every visit. This includes proper lighting to improve visibility and reduce the risk of accidents; the addition of high-strength bathtub transfer benches or grab bars (which can be disguised as beautiful towel racks and shelves); non-slip flooring to help avoid falls on slippery tiles; the removal of raised edges around the shower stall to a curbless design, minimizing the risk of tripping and injury; and the opening up of below-counter space so that wheelchairs and stools can sit closer to the vanity station.
These modifications go beyond mere safety measures; they provide seniors with a sense of confidence, security, and independence while in the bathroom, which enhances their overall dignity and autonomy.
5) Smart Locks, Doors, and Monitors
Installing smart locks, doors, and monitoring systems offers seniors an enhanced level of convenience, security, and peace of mind. Smart locks, along with lever vs knob designs eliminate much of the manual dexterity needed to operate traditional door handles and locks, making access to the home easier for individuals with limited mobility. Additionally, smart monitors allow homeowners to identify visitors or check who is at the door without physically getting up and going to it, providing an added layer of security and control.
6) Flooring Modifications
Modifying flooring is a valuable home modification that focuses on improving safety and reducing the risk of tripping and falling, especially around corners or between rooms. This modification may involve removing raised thresholds, installing smooth and slip-resistant surfaces, or reconfiguring the layout to create better transition points. By ensuring a seamless and hazard-free flow throughout the home, seniors can navigate their living spaces with ease and worry less about an unexpected injury.
7) Exterior Modifications
Part of what creates a home’s charm and character is its appearance from the outside. Many seniors enjoy gardening, growing their own vegetables, or beautifying the neighbourhood with rows of delightful flowers; aging in place should be no reason to change that!
Changes like raised garden beds offer opportunities for a delightful summer hobby without causing physical strain, while well-maintained landscaping and paving reduces tripping hazards and loose materials underfoot. By transforming the exterior areas of the home, seniors can enjoy the beauty of nature, engage in a lifelong passion, and have safe and accessible spaces to relax and socialize.
Should I Modify My Home for Aging in Place?
If you’re a Calgary senior homeowner considering aging in place, it’s crucial to carefully plan and consider modifications to your home. It’s a chance to create an environment that blends functionality, convenience, and aesthetics, all tailored to your specific needs and desires. These may involve structural changes, incorporating assistive technology, or both, but the end goal is always to ensure that your home supports your well-being and enables you to age in place – happily, comfortably, and with the utmost confidence.
At MyLifetimeHome, we specialize in guiding seniors through the renovation process, providing expert advice and tailored solutions to meet your unique requirements. We understand the importance of creating a living space that accommodates your changing needs while preserving the familiar and cherished elements of your home. With our expertise and commitment to excellence, we can help you navigate the complexities of home modifications, offering peace of mind and confidence as you embark on this transformative journey. So, reach out today and let’s create something incredible!