Some of those things include accessibility, safety and manoeuvrability.
Marlin Plett, a design technician with Custom Designing in New Glasgow, is also a certified Aging in Place inspector, and he can recommend adaptations to a home that will improve these things for elderly occupants.
Aging in Place refers to the ability of senior citizens to live independently in their present residence for as long as possible, while being able to access the necessary support services.
Plett said he offers an unbiased approach between existing conditions and what the homeowner wants. “A lot of people are shocked at the hassle and expense of making something adaptable, but my goal is to help them get there,” he said, noting that sometimes this can be accomplished through price checking or considering another option.
“I try to always come across and do this with the end goal of getting as close as possible to what they want,” he said.
Considerations include appliances, bathrooms, counter height, flooring and hallways.
For example, doorways and hallways need to be wide enough to accommodate walkers or wheelchairs, often stairs need to be replaced with ramp systems, and flooring needs to be the same level as well. “A level floor surface is really critical for someone with a walker,” said Plett.
Bathrooms are another area where renovations are often necessary – adding tubs or showers that are accessible, and toilets that are taller, plus grab bars. “It’s not as simple as screwing a handle on the wall – there better be solid backing behind it.”
Smaller changes that can be made can involve replacing doorknobs with levers that are easier to open if someone is afflicted with arthritis.
Sometimes, Plett said, older homes are not easily adapted without very costly renovations, and concessions may have to be made “if they really want to live at home.”