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The number of Americans over the age of 65 is projected to double by 2030.
Driven by massive numbers of Baby Boomers who will all become seniors by that time, this demographic represents the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population. With astonishing numbers like these, it’s no wonder this core audience is catching the eye of the home remodeling market.
Residential retrofits can have life-enhancing—and life-saving—impacts for elderly Americans.
From designs that reduce the likelihood of falls to creating welcoming shared spaces that address social isolation, home modifications can improve and extend the lives of seniors. The solutions don’t have to be opulent and expensive, either. Even subtle design choices can ultimately impact how long an elderly person is able to live in his or her own home.
Read on for seven improvements that are well worth the investment.
- Let the light shine in. Poor lighting can lead to accidents and falls, especially for the elderly, who are more prone to vision problems than their younger counterparts. For seniors, ambient light sources are a better option than high-contrast lighting, which tends to shed a harsh glare. In addition to letting in as much natural light as possible, install high-quality artificial illumination from energy-efficient LED lights and easy-to-operate rocker style switches. For added safety and to ensure unobstructed views, it’s a good idea to add bright motion lights to hallways and points of entry.
- Incorporate color. High-contrast hues are helpful for those whose eyesight and mobility is diminished. A darker shade on bathroom walls, for example, makes it easier to see a white toilet seat or sink. Color can also have a dramatic positive effect on mood. For example, soft pinks and pale greens can create a sense of calm, while bright red and radiant orange can improve energy levels.
- Bathroom safety should be a priority. As the most dangerous room in the house at any age, the bathroom poses serious hazards for aging homeowners. Consider adding a shower with a zero-threshold or walk-in style to make entry and exit easy. Many of these models incorporate a seat into the design for added comfort and safety. When renovating an existing shower, wall tiles that contrast with the floor tiles can help residents to more readily distinguish between the two surfaces. And don’t forget to include plenty of grab bars. These helpful aids should be added in the shower or tub, by the toilet, and any other places in the bathroom where a helping hand might be needed.
- Create a user-friendly kitchen. Deep shelving units that require reaching and stretching are impractical for the elderly, so replace them with hassle-free pull-out cabinets and drawers. Built-in appliances provide additional counter space and can be placed at heights that are more suitable and convenient. Positioning countertops at appropriate heights also allows older residents to work more comfortably, safely, and efficiently.
- Look out below. To create a gentler home for mature residents, opt for soft and smooth surfaces, such as rubber or cork. They are easier on joints and don’t pose the trip hazards that high-pile or thickly padded carpets do. These surfaces also offer the benefit of ease of maintenance. Be sure to keep flooring as flat and level as possible throughout the home, and eliminate or drastically reduce the height of any thresholds. If level changes are necessary, such as a step down into a sunken living room, adding different colors, materials, and/or textures can help reduce the risk of trips and falls.
- Open up the floor plan. Depending upon the existing layout of the senior’s home, this renovation may be fairly extensive. An easily accessible living area tends to be easier to navigate for those who rely on canes, walkers, and wheelchairs. Removing narrow, winding hallways provides more room to maneuver and less opportunity for accidents. Furniture should also be removed, changed, and/or rearranged to accommodate fluctuating needs.
- Create enduring livability with universal design features. Rather than thinking in the short term, universal design strives to anticipate future lifestyle changes that will be necessary. This clever approach can add years of livability and is appropriate for residents of all ages. A universally-designed home that’s perfect for a young couple can potentially avert the need to move later in life. Among aging homeowners, looking ahead is also wise. The needs of a 65-year-old senior are likely to be fewer than those of an 80-year-old, for example.
Some simple remodeling fixes can go a long way.
With the aging population expected to double over the next decade, modified home designs that improve quality of life will continue to be on the minds of remodelers, designers, and builders. Through renovations that optimize mobility, safety, and functionality, seniors can fully enjoy their homes for many years to come.
To learn more about home retrofits for America’s graying population, or if you’re seeking financing resources, please contact our helpful team of professionals.
About Certified Title Corporation: Since 1994, attorney-owned Certified Title Corporation has been furnishing residential and commercial real estate stakeholders across the nation with robust title insurance, settlement, and escrow services. Renowned for their industry-leading reliability and exemplary level of service and quality, the Maryland-based company helps clients from all walks of life achieve their asset goals. To learn more, call (888)486-5511 or visit https://www.certifiedtitlecorp.com/.