NEW YORK – A majority of Americans — at least 75% — say they want to spend their retirement years in their own homes. They are determined to live life fully and remain independent as long as possible.
But most homes weren't designed with the elderly in mind, especially when it comes to wheelchair accessibility and bathroom and kitchen safety features.
If you want to remain comfortable in your home well into your retirement years, use opportunities now — such as any home remodeling or renovation — to make your home more conducive to retirement living. Contemplating the liabilities of age is not pleasant, but it will be worth it to your older self.
Consider these changes:
Install kitchen appliances at a convenient height. That means less stooping over dishwasher racks and less reaching up to freezers.
When making major alterations, install doorways at least 36 inches across and widen hallways so they are wheelchair accessible. If you are concerned with wasting space, use it in a way that can be altered. A wide hallway can be lined with bookshelves that can be removed later.
The bathroom can be an obstacle course for the elderly. Consider installing benches and grab bars in your bathtubs and showers, making it easier to get in and out. If you aren't prepared to add grab bars now, reinforce the walls to make a later addition simple.
Consider small but essential features — such as doorknobs, cabinet handles and faucets — that have been designed for the elderly. They are easier to grip and turn.