If your children have grown up and flown the coop, retirement is settling in, and you’re enjoying that senior discount, don’t forget to tackle some home renovations to help you stay safe in your golden years.
Renovating a home to make it more senior-friendly is a growing trend thanks to Canada’s aging population.
Statistics Canada calculates the number of seniors in Canada is projected to increase from 4.2 million to 9.8 million between 2005 and 2036, with seniors making up 24.5 percent of the population by 2036.
With decreased mobility, risk of falls, and other challenges that come with older age, there are plenty of places in a home that can be renovated to keep safety in mind while allowing a person to live for longer in their home.
One of the main places someone entering their senior years should look to renovate to increase safety is the bathroom.
“We’re taking out a lot of bathtubs,” noted Ben Wiersema of Kitchen & Bath Plus here. “Removing the tubs, putting shower basins in to varying degrees.”
These new shower basins can range from a conventional shower base to one the same size of the bathtub, so it’s a comparable footprint, Wiersema said, which means there is a lower threshold for people to step over.
“If someone has a really hard time lifting their legs, we can actually do barrier-free, in that we recess into the floor a shower base, or do an integral tile floor base all in one so it’s pre-sloped, so there’s absolutely no curb,” he explained, a style which makes the shower accessible for those in wheelchairs.
Wiersema conceded some people don’t want to get rid of their bathtub for a shower, whether for their own use, their family’s use, resale value, and so on.
But safety doesn’t mean having to give this up, with Wiersema pointing to new bathtub designs on the market which have a small door that can be opened and closed.
“They can have the best of both worlds,” he noted. “They can walk in and shower, or they can have a conventional bath.”
As well, for safety within a shower, different seating can be installed. Some seats are integral and built in with a new bathtub, some can fold up, while others can be bought and installed separately.
Other possible renovations that can be done to make a home more senior-friendly include:
•Install grab bars in various sizes and placements around the shower and toilet.
•A new toilet (toilets now are being designed at a higher level, meaning it’s easier to get up and down from).
•Create larger doorways for easier navigation (from the usual 24-28 inch door to 36 inches).
•Sinks can be designed “open and low” so an individual in a wheelchair can access them.
•Customized cabinetry for both kitchens and bathrooms means that shelving elevation and depths can be changed as needed.
•Install easy-to-turn, lever-type faucets
•Improve and ensure adequate lighting both inside and outside the home, and especially with stairways.
•Ensure stairs and steps are in good repair, and with railings to prevent falls.
•Heated floors and heated towel bars can be a nice touch so that when stepping out of the bathtub, a person can step onto a warm floor.
For those interested in getting started with renovations, Wiersema suggested they first begin by consulting with someone like himself in the business “to see what’s out there, what’s popular and what’s not—just to get an idea of what suits them because everyone’s different.”
“Budget, of course, is important, that’s one of the most important things,” Wiersema added.
“If you have a limited budget, you want to get as much bang for your buck,” he reasoned.