Aging in place remodeling enables homeowners to remain in their homes as they age or when living with a chronic condition by modifying the space to accommodate needs for improved accessibility.
So older baby boomers can maintain independence, comfort, and safety as they age. The quality of life improvement is one of the greatest advantages of remodeling a home for aging in place.
Why Aging Americans Modernize their Home
Most Americans live in homes that were built more than 15 years ago.
These homes were designed and built for the baby boomers as they moved through their 30s and 40s. The homes served them well when they moved in and lived most of their adult lives, through age 50 or even 55. But the truth is: most houses were not built using accessible or barrier-free design, or using current home technology .
So, as this group continues to age, they’re faced with a new reality. They need a different, modernized kind of housing.
Many people start an aging in place construction project due to:
- A change in their physical or mental limitations
- The desire to modernize a home for ease of use or style
- An in-law or older adult who plans on moving into or continuing to live in an independent home
- A traumatic event that creates an immediate life change
- Limited mobility due to the aging process
- A exacerbating chronic condition
But some aging Americans have concerns about hiring aging in place remodelers.
No one wants to live in a place that feels like a sterile medical environment. And many may worry about losing the warm and welcoming feel their home currently has. This is where universal design principles become so important.
Safety, Comfort, and Universal Design
Universal Design is essentially human-centered design. It seeks to create environments and products that offer safety and comfort for all people, without need for adaptation or functional changes.
Homes that incorporate principles of universal design are perfectly suited for the needs of aging baby boomers and people with disabilities. And they are also appropriate for those who live with their extended families, even those with young children.
The environment is safer and more comfortable for everyone.
What Changes May Be Needed?
Here are some examples of the most common home modifications for aging in place renovations:
- Bathroom remodeling for handicap accessibility
- Converting a bathtub to a walk-in-shower with no-step entry
- Addition of a shower seat
- Slip resistant flooring
- Slip resistant tub solutions
- Installing handrails and grab bars
- Lower bathroom countertop
- Accessible light switches and electrical outlets
- Countertops with rounded corners
- Doorway and hallway widening for easy access — wider doors and lower thresholds
- Wheelchair ramps
- Kitchen renovation for accessibility
Main Floor Living
Generally, the objective of aging in place home remodeling projects is “first floor” dwelling.
That means you have all you need on the main floor of your home. Sometimes that just cannot be achieved for a particular house. When that happens, you can talk to your remodelers about adding an elevator or chair lift.
First floor dwelling generally covers the bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and laundry. Even if you already have these rooms on your primary floor, the current design doesn’t necessarily exhibit the qualities you need for aging in place.
Here are a few examples of common aging in place construction upgrades to ensure the space is usable for everyone.
- Implementing smart home technology, e.g., motion sensitive lighting
- Replacing door knobs with lever handles (easier for seniors with arthritis to use)
- Expanding countertop space to eliminate bending for individuals with rigid backs
- Installing non-slip floors in commonly wet areas, like the bathroom
Will My Home Look Like a Medical Facility?
No. Many people believe an accessibility home remodeling project is synonymous with an institutional or ‘nursing home’ feeling. Nothing could be further from the truth!
Subtle design changes can have a strong impact on how long you continue to live in your home without compromising comfort or functional beauty, whether aging or with a disability.
In fact, many of the changes can make your space look more modern and comfortable. Often, homeowners enjoy participating in the process of selecting the colors and materials needed for changes. It enables them to create the home they always wanted.
Cost of Aging in Place Remodeling
Timelines for aging in place remodeling vary widely. Some modifications can be completed in just a few days. For more extensive changes, it might take up to 6 months.
The price largely depends on the state of your current house and what changes are needed to continue living there.
For example, the cost of a bathroom remodeling project typically starts at about $15,000. If the space needs more extensive aging in place renovation to accommodate walkers or wheelchairs, wider doorways, or new flooring, the price can climb.
Depending on local labor costs, choice of specialized accessibility products, and other factors, an aging in place remodel for a bathroom can run $30,000 and up.
Those numbers can seem high. But when compared to the cost of an assisted living or nursing home, you often still come out ahead. Plus you are usually adding to the value of your home.
Seeking Professional Help with Aging in Place Design
Not every home improvement builder understands the concept of aging in place renovation or how to prepare homeowners for the transition.
You need to find a design-bid-build team with experience using building materials and aging in place construction processes that emphasize accessibility, safety, and aesthetics.
Live in Place Designs is among the select group of national professionals who have earned the Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) designation.
The National Association of Home Builders certification has designated Live in Place Designs as a major building professional with knowledge and techniques specific to home construction for individuals more than 50 years old and those with disabilities and chronic conditions.
As certified aging in place specialists, our work integrates safety and functionality with comfort and beauty. We draw on the principles of Universal Design and years of direct experience observing how people’s needs change over time.
Updated 2/15/22. Originally Published 8/20/2019.