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Remodel now, age later

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Thursday, October 18, 2012
Posted: 3 pm ET

Whether you are staying put in the family home or moving to something new and different, Deborah Pierce, an architect and author of "The Accessible Home: Creating a House for all Ages and Abilities," offers some suggestions for making a home more retirement friendly. She points out that while some of these ideas might appear to be costly, making them part of your retirement planning could save you in the end.

Remodel the kitchen to fit how you live. As we age, standing on tile floors and working at countertops that are uncomfortably high could could discourage the cook. If you don't like your kitchen and you opt to go out for meals frequently, the cost of making the kitchen more older-cook friendly could be a bargain. Think about lowering at least some of the counters so you can sit while you prepare food. Install a two-drawer dishwasher that you can run more often without wasting water. Replace the refrigerator with a model that has the freezer at the bottom. Get rid of things such as ceiling lights and extra-tall cabinets that require you to stand on something to reach for a serving dish or change a bulb. Standing with your arms straight up is hazardous to anyone with a balance issue.

Ban shadows. Bright light, especially in entrance ways, mud rooms, kitchens, bathrooms and stairways, will help you avoid falling. Putting additional light anyplace where the flooring is uneven -- for instance, when you go from carpet to tile -- is also a good idea.

Reconsider doors. If you fall in the bathroom, a door that swings inward could trap you and prevent you from getting help. Widening doorways, installing pocket doors or removing doors altogether in places where you no longer need them will make your home more accessible and often more attractive, Pierce says.

Bigger bathrooms are better. "The more maneuvering space in the bathroom, the more likely it is that if you fall, you won't hit your head on the wall," Pierce says. If you can steal some space from a bedroom you no longer use much, that also might allow you to add a wheelchair-accessible stand-up shower -- and maybe, an oversize walk-in luxury whirlpool tub.

Install a lift.  An elevator takes lots of space and can be pricey. Installing an alternative way to get upstairs will extend the time you can live independently. Consider chair lifts and platform lifts. Chair lifts require less space, but platform lifts can be safer and more versatile.

Create space for a caregiver. Privacy is important. Ideally, this space would have its own bath and space for a refrigerator, microwave and sink. Remodeling the basement could be the answer if there is a way to add an outside exit.

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October 31, 2012 at 11:37 am

Wow, the lack of intelligence spreads! I'm in my 30s, have an IQ north of 160, and am an extraordinarily successful businesswomen who has been involved in the internet longer than most of you have known how to spell it. Jealous much? LOL.

"Lose" and "loose" are words only "frequently swapped" by those who do not understand English. Period.

October 19, 2012 at 11:25 pm

Thanks Carrie - you just validated my belief that there isn't any place on the internet that doesn't have some hater berating the other commenters. Why don't you just go on YouTube where the haters and trolls belong.

Kathy G – Florida
October 19, 2012 at 10:28 pm

Aging-in-Place and Accessibility are extremely important and timely topics. Focus on safety and overall health cannot be more emphasized. As a General Contractor who is a NAHB CAPS Remodeler, I can only impress upon any reader to do their homework and help our aging population enjoy their independence and safety as long as possible.

October 19, 2012 at 9:49 pm

Good article, sound advice. I would add ELIMINATE CONDITIONS THAT MIGHT CAUSE FALLS - Falling amoung the aging is a major risk that often leads to broken hips, pneumonia and other residual problems. Installation of grab bars and additional railings, elimination of throw rugs and reduction of clutter can minimize risk of falling.

October 19, 2012 at 9:18 pm

Carrie, you have no shame either, apparently. Tony's self-promotion can be said to serve a useful purpose. Your contribution serves no one and nothing. Incidentally, you're an idiot if you think a typo has any correlation to whether or not this gentleman could do excellent work on your home. I'm guessing you're in your early twenties. Grow up missy.

October 19, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Shame on you, Carrie for making the assumption that someone is not an expert in his/her trade because they can not "write English properly." Lose/loose are two words frequently swapped.

I can not even begin to understand how someone would take the time to be so negative.

October 19, 2012 at 11:08 am

Shameless self-promotion, Tony.

Incidentally, I would never patronize the business of a man who cannot write English properly. Never.

Tony Scott
October 19, 2012 at 5:50 am

If you neglect your home by not paying attention towards the damages which are deteriorating the walls of your foundation then you are loosing the overall property of your home. You can take assistance of home inspector or consult waterproofing ny