Not only is it a good idea to think about remodeling your home if you’re planning to “age in place,” it’s also a good idea to apply universal design trends that make your home safe for all generations.
The National Association of Homebuilders and Remodelers has a lengthy checklist of things you can do to make your home more senior-friendly. Three key areas to consider: Can you live on one level? Can your home accommodate a wheelchair? Do you have enough lighting?
If your home has more than one level separated by stairs, consider a bedroom addition and/or a full bath on the main floor. You should be able to live on one level in the event you can’t climb stairs. The bedroom can be a full-blown addition or bump-out, or you can turn a less-used room like the study or the formal living room into a bedroom. As you are remodeling, consider the wheelchair accessibility, as well. While you don’t have to have three-foot doorways everywhere, you should have open space between rooms for easier maneuvering. Comfort-height counters, toilets and vanities are also a good idea for wheelchair accessibility.
Along with the remodeling effort, include a lighting plan. Put in more lighting than you think you’ll need, because, inevitably, you will need it. As we age, our eyesight declines and it’s sometimes difficult to see slight changes in floor levels, causing falls. Have easy-access lighting with rocker switches at all entrances to rooms, and add task lighting that is easy to reach in key places.