DIY Home Improvements You Can Make to Age in Place

Posted by on Aug 05, 2022

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The tradition of rolling off to an old age home to live out your golden years is fading with generational shifts. One recent survey suggested that 90 percent of Americans want to "age in place," or spend the last portion of their lives in their homes, surrounded by loved ones. Part of that change means installing support rails and other assistance to help make the home livable for someone who may not have the best balance or eyesight. 

Making a few simple home improvements can go a long way in helping you to age in place. If you want to make these changes yourself, it's wise to start while you still have the ability, even if that means planning years in advance.

Many of the modifications will occur in the bathroom and kitchen as well as on staircases.

Install a Grab Bar in the Bathroom

To install a bathtub or shower safety bar, first consult the person who will be using the assistance. If that person is you, figure out the best place for you to lean so you can easily get in and out of the tub or shower. 

Once you’ve decided on the right area, locate the studs in the wall behind the tiles. You’re probably going to drill through tile so you don’t want to locate the screw holes too close to the edge of the tiles or you may crack them. If you don’t have the equipment to drill through tile or are concerned about trying, some models can be attached without screws. These types can also useful when working with fiberglass walls. After you’re done installing the handle, don’t forget to give it the yank test to ensure it will stay on.

Widen Doorways for Wheelchairs

Expanding a doorway is hardly a beginner DIY project. So if you’re not comfortable with some medium level woodwork and electrical adjustments, you may want to call a professional carpenter and electrician to help. For you have to remove the molding and door frame. Be sure to check if the doorway is located in a load bearing wall. If so, you’ll need to install a temporary header while the existing one is set aside. 

Then you remove the existing door way and studs and replacement with elements that meet the wider spec. In this case, you probably want it wide enough to allow for a wheel chair. Depending on the location of light switches and sockets, the wiring may need to be shifted. When the new plasterboard is nailed it holes must be created for any relocated sockets or switches.

Install a Handrail on the Staircase

While most staircases have a bannister, an extra set of handrails can be helpful for balance on the way up or down the stairs.When you choose the railing you’re going to install, it may make sense to have a textured grip. Like handrails in the bathtub, one of the first steps is locating studs in the wall. 

The rails are typically placed between 34 and 38 inches high from the stair treads, but it may help to consult the person who’ll be using the extra support. Be sure you have drill bits that will cleanly create the starter holes in the wall without shredding away. The rails should be able to support a 200 pound load.

Install a Chair Lift

As you age, getting up and down stairs can become much harder. Some individuals are so challenged by stairs they move into single floor homes. If you want to remain in a home with two floors and find them daunting, consider a chair lift. Home lifts can be installed both indoors and outdoors. While it's possible to install your own, you probably want to consult a professional to find the best lift for your needs and budget. For example, Stiltz Home Lifts South Africa are able to suggest the right lift given the size of your home.

As you can tell by the video above, building your own chair lift is no small task.

Remodel Your Kitchen

You may not think of the kitchen as a room that needs to be redone for seniors, yet a lot of potential problems can occur there. If you're willing to consider a big makeover, you may want to add more lighting and create an open layout to make it easier to move through. Other possibilities include changing out the handles to make them easier to grab. The options can be tiny or huge.