Aging in Place with Style and Grace

Aging in place – updating one’s home to accommodate changing needs and abilities as one ages – doesn’t have to mean sacrificing a home’s style and decor. From attractive lighting designed to work well for aging eyes to barrier-free shower stalls that compete in beauty and practicality with what you might find in a luxury community for those 55 and older, plenty of home modifications now make it possible to age in place gracefully and stylishly.

It’s no longer necessary to give up your home’s good looks for a more institutional-looking appearance just to achieve a safer, more usable house; you can age in place and retain the style that makes living in your home comfortable and safe, and maintain your independence at the same time. With more than 78 million baby boomers growing older in the United States, aging in place – and how to do it well – is a hot topic for many homeowners. If you’re planning ahead or thinking it’s now time to update your home to accommodate changing needs, Handyman Matters has a few things for you to keep in mind:

Kitchens and baths are commonly the most challenging rooms in the house for people, like many seniors, with mobility issues. Updating these rooms can go a long way toward helping you stay in and enjoy your own home for as long as possible. Bathrooms, in particular, pose safety issues because falls are one of the leading reasons seniors must go into nursing homes.

When renovating your bathroom, focus on the important elements, including low-level entryways, accessible grab bars, easy grip faucets and showers with safety screens. Other elements include safer, slip-resistant flooring; brighter, more flexible lighting; and safe access to the shower or bathtub. Handyman Matters professional craftsmen can prepare your home for the changing needs of the future.

Stepping in and out of a tub or shower is one of the riskiest times for people with mobility challenges. Appropriately placed grab bars – now available in designer colors and textures – can help improve safety in these high-risk areas. Another option that’s high on safety and style is to replace a current shower or tub with a walk-in shower. The walk-in showers are a good option for wheelchair users or in rooms where a full-size tub is not practical. Have these items installed properly by the professionals at Handyman Matters.

That tile floor that you adored in your 40s can be a slip hazard when you reach your 70s. In fact, any hard bathroom floor surface such as linoleum, vinyl or tile can put you at increased risk of slipping and falling. Carpeting might be a better option, one that is slip resistant and warmer and softer on the feet. Many manufacturers now offer materials that are attractive and able to repel moisture. If installing carpeting isn’t practical for you, use area rugs with sticky backing to help ensure safe footing in high traffic areas, like in front of the commode, sink and bathtub.

Aging eyes not only need more light to see, they need better quality light, especially at night. Avoid dim lighting; older eyes need several times more light than younger eyes to see well. Increase the amount of light in your bathroom and consider using naturally brighter bulbs like compact fluorescent bulbs, which are also energy-efficient.

Be aware of glare, as well. Bright lights bouncing off all-white bathroom surfaces can create glare that makes it difficult to see and navigate for older people, especially at night when they may not be fully awake. If your bath is all white, Handyman Matters can paint the walls a light color in a finish that will help reduce glare. Use area rugs on white floors to help break up the expanse of white and reduce glare.

Boomers aging in place will find more options than ever before to do so with style, but safety should be your first concern – that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy good style and beautiful design as well. Take it from the professionals and let Handyman Matters prepare your home for you to age in gracefully and with good style.

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