According to the National Aging in Place Council, an overwhelming majority of Americans want to age in place, the term used to describe homeowners who want to remain in their current homes for as long as possible. In fact, by 2030, Americans 65 and older will make up 20 percent of the population. While you may choose to age in place, your house may not be suited to the changing needs as you age. The good news is that there are many simple ways to make a home more functional, livable and easier to use.
It can be as simple as choosing low-maintenance entry doors with easy-to-use levers instead of doorknobs, upgrading to a curb-less shower, enhancing lighting in walkways and task areas, and installing higher toilets and grab bars in the bathroom. One of the areas of the home that can pose the biggest challenge for someone who suffers from Arthritis, has a disability or uses a wheelchair is the front door. Here are some things to consider when evaluating whether your home’s entries are adaptable for staying put in your home longer.
- Evaluate Your Entryway: To age in place and accommodate a wheelchair, ideally the doorway to your home should be at least 32-inches wide. Even without needing a wheelchair, a wider opening can be beneficial to provide added space for getting in and out. Consider also how the door swings. A door that swings in may be easier to operate than one that swings out. A remodeling contractor can help determine what your home will accommodate structurally and can provide recommendations for the door styles available and handle the installation.
- Stay in Step: No-step entries or limited level changes at the front or patio door prevent tripping and better accommodate wheelchairs. Therma-Tru offers entry and patio doors with adjustable sills as a low threshold option.
- Get A Grip: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 67 million adults aged 18 years and older will have doctor-diagnosed arthritis by the year 2030. For Arthritis sufferers, just turning a doorknob can be painfully difficult. For this reason, aging in place should include installing lever-style handles on your exterior and interior doors.
- Pass-Through Patio: Patio doors tend to receive more traffic than the front entry door. If your patio door is due for an upgrade, you can choose the classic elegance of a hinged patio door or the modern convenience of a sliding patio door. Both are available in two-, three- or four-panel configurations to ensure a wide opening. A French door configuration, a double hinged door opening to the outside, is also ideal if you live in a climate with high winds and inclement weather, since winds simply push the door against that jamb, ensuring a tighter seal.
- Maintain The Beauty: As we age, simple home cleaning and maintenance tasks get harder. Having a wood door for example, will require more maintenance over time as it tends to rot, split or crack and require frequent painting and staining. A better option is a fiberglass door. Fiberglass doors can withstand a wide range of temperatures and weather elements and are low-maintenance, can be stained or painted like a wood door and are easily cleaned with soap and water. Fiberglass doors can even replicate the rich look and feel of a real oak or mahogany door, but offer all the durability and advantages of fiberglass.
So if you’ve always dreamed of having your grandchildren visit you in your current home, a few modifications is all it takes to make your “aging in place” dream a reality.