9 Ways to Renovate Your Home to be Age Friendly

When an aging couple in Maryland decided to spend $110,000 they weren't buying into a fixed annuity. They were remodeling their house to be a place where they can age gracefully, and allay their fears of retirement residences, reported Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

Here are 9 ways to renovate your homes instead of entering a retirement residence.

1. Make it user-friendly and safe for aging bodies.

Be proactive. It's too late during an emergency situation and someone needs an immediate remodel to accommodate an injury or illness. Necessary designs, permits and construction are impossible in a short timeline.

2. Build in age-friendly features

Incorporate age-friendly features into every renovation project. Aesthetics aren't so important. For example, honed marble is less slippery though less appealing than polished marble.

3. Don't shy away from bigger-ticket projects

Dollars spent today may mean less time - or no time - in an assisted living facility or nursing home. An expensive aging-in-place project could equate to years against moving to an assisted-living facility.

4. Insta-prep your home

Get rid of area rugs. They are sure-fire tripping accidents. Grip-easy handles should replace knobs that can be harder for arthritic hands. Heighten electrical outlets and lower light switches at doorways. These measures reduce the need to reach high up.

5. Do a serious lighting upgrade

A 75-year-old has lost the vision ability of 30 to 40-year-olds and needs about three times more light. Hallways and task lighting in the kitchen and in the bathroom are key areas for improvement.

6. Focus on the bathroom

Install grab bars near the toilet and at the entrance to a shower/bath. Hire a pro to  install the washroom renovations. The bars need to be properly anchored in the toilet and shower areas.

7. Secure the stairs

Focus on making the stairs as safe as possible. Install railings on both sides to make it easier to navigate. Install wider doorways rather than the usual 28-to 32-inch clearance. Create contrast on each step by alternating coloration.

8. Utilize your sweet spots

Bring appliances and work spaces into spots that don't require a person to stoop high or  low. A contractor can build a raised floor for both washer and dryer. There may be expenses involved, but far less than the price of living in a Continuing Care retirement residence.

9. Tips for the kitchen

Relocate the microwave from above the stove to a counter top or low cabinet. Work areas can be relocated to low-height counters for sitting while preparing meals.