Andre Smith

Home & Garden

5 renovations to make your home safer as you get older

5 renovations to make your home safer as you get older

As you age, it’s not unusual to become increasingly conscious of little things that never used to seem like a big deal when you were younger.

Even when you were young, climbing stairs was probably not your idea of fun -- but perhaps now it seems like climbing a staircase is getting more onerous with each passing year. You never used to think twice about getting in and out of your bathtub, but now it seems like a daunting task – especially when the tub is wet and slippery. Maybe you’re having trouble bending down, so now it’s infuriatingly frustrating to cook a meal in your own oven.

If you’d like to keep living in your home for as long as possible, there are countless home renovations you can do to make your home safer, more comfortable and more convenient. If you’re suffering from any of the frustrations mentioned above, or others like it, consider the following 5 home renovations as possible solutions:

1. Add grab rails

Grab rails are low-tech safety devices that can help you in multiple ways. Installing grab rails in the shower can help you to prevent injuries from falling, because you can grab onto the rails to steady yourself as you enter or exit the shower. Grab rails in the hallways can help to keep you from tiring yourself as you navigate through your home, because the grab rail can bear some of the burden of your weight as you walk. If you eventually need the assistance of a caregiver, grab rails can be helpful to both you and the carer as s/he helps to move you from one place to another. Grab rails are relatively inexpensive and worth every penny.

2. Replace or modify the staircase

If you’re having a hard time entering your home due to mobility issues, it may be time to consider removing the exterior entry stairs and replacing them with a ramp.

If the interior of your home includes a staircase that has become difficult to navigate, it may be possible to install a chair lift that attaches to your staircase. The chair lift could help you to ascend and descend the staircase more easily than before. An elevator installation may also be a possibility, depending on the design of your home.

3. Install a stepless shower

Are you worried that the step up into your shower or bathtub might trip you or cause you to fall? It’s a valid concern. You could eliminate that tripping hazard all together by installing a stepless shower in the bathroom where you typically bathe.

4. Design a full bathroom for the first floor

Are mobility issues hindering you from reaching your second-storey bathroom? You can only take so many sponge baths before it starts to get tiresome.  If this is your situation, perhaps it could be worthwhile to consider renovating a first-floor half bath to include a shower.

5. Replace hard-to-reach appliances with more accessible units

If bending down is problematic for you, cooking with traditional appliances may have become a challenge. Some freestanding appliances can be replaced with wall-mounted units that do not require you to bend in order to use them. For example, there are wall mounted ovens and microwaves you can have installed at whichever height would be most comfortable for you to avoid the need for bending.

Helpful resources for ageing-in-place renovations

It isn’t always easy to locate the assets, expertise and materials you need for renovating your home to age in place. The following resources may be of interest to you if you wish to perform any of the home renovations suggested above:

Help With Safe Work Method Statements

If you or your contractors are planning to perform any high-risk construction tasks in your home, a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) will be needed to comply with Australian law. If you need help with this, check out the products and services that SWMS Docs makes available.

One example of when you and your contractor might need this service: These SMS docs are likely to be helpful if you are planning any staircase renovations. If workers in your home would be vulnerable to falling more than 2 meters as a result of the work they are doing, an SWMS will be needed.

Mobility Access Modifications (MAM)

This company offers multiple practical solutions for older Australians who wish to spend their golden years living at home rather than moving to an aged care facility. MAM sells products including rubber ramps and grab bars. They can also install stepless showers, custom rail solutions and similar improvements.

Stannah Chair Lifts

If you’re having a hard time navigating stairs, Stannah’s products and services may be of interest to you. Stannah makes both indoor and outdoor stair lifts available.

More suggested reading for Australians who want to age in place: