“Aging In Place”: Senior-Friendly Remodeling Tips

aging in placeIn the last few years, there’s been a significant adjustment in what is being offered to enable people to “age in place.” The trend is to provide alternatives that don’t give a home the feel of “an old folks’ home.”

As the baby boomer generation ages, the market for attractive, senior-friendly products has grown, as well. Nowadays, manufacturers are tempting buyers with things like grab bars that make you think “pretty,” rather than “old;” kitchen drawers that make you think “wow,” rather than “useful,” and kitchen faucets with temperature presets that make you think “elegant” rather than “avoids burns.”

Here are some other ideas for “updating,” rather than “senior-proofing” your home:

Changing the color inside a drawer makes it contents easier to see.

Installing LED strips around medicine cabinets or in drawers also helps people to see what’s inside more easily. LEDs don’t get hot, and they’re discreet and efficient.

Manufacturers have come up with a stepstool device that can be installed under a cabinet and can be opened with a light kick to the door.

There’s a trend towards drawers and cabinets that open by gentle touch and close automatically.

Bathtubs are now available with one side that can be raised and lowered with minimum pressure. Some are also available with a protruding seat. This has proven to be useful not just for seniors or for physically-challenged individuals who might need to transfer themselves from a wheelchair into the tub, but also for young parents who can sit there to bathe their children.

Battery-operated faucets are now available that will sense the body’s electric current and will turn on automatically if a human is within four inches, and turns off with a touch or within seconds after you walk away.

There are now kitchen cabinet designs that incorporate a drawer which holds stacks of plates and makes them easier to lift out, rather than removing plates from an overhead cabinet or shelf.

There’s no question that the aging of the baby-boom generation has fueled many such design innovations. People who no longer can get at pots and pans easily or set out  a spread for a party might feel less confident and less inclined to entertain.  This starts to isolate them.

This new trend in product design not only is helping a significant portion of the population to remain in their homes longer, but also to be more vibrant and more socially connected. This is a wave that is only going to get stronger as more of the population moves into the senior demographic.