How to Age in Place with Smart Home Technology and Home Renovations

by Emily LongJanuary 15, 2018

63% of baby boomers who refuse to sell their homes do so because their current homes meet the needs of their families, those same individuals may find their situation trickier to navigate as they age. Steps and throw rugs may trip unwary feet, and door handles can make hands ache.

Other homeowners relate to those struggles. More importantly, they do something about them. Houzz reports that more than half of its senior users make home renovations so that they can age in place.

The following checklist suggests projects and upgrades to help you age in place and create a safer and more convenient home for everyone, regardless of age.

Home Exterior

age in place Log Building Wheelchair Handicapped Wooden Access Ramp
Many homes feature a front stoop, artistic door handle, or elaborate porch. The items may add curb appeal, but they often prove daunting a person with arthritis or a walker. Solve the potential problems with these two projects:

  1. Replace doorknobs with levers. Levers are typically easier to manage since you need to only push down on them to get the door to open.
  2. Install a security system. A quality security system responds to not only criminal activity but also medical alert devices, further securing your personal safety and well-being.

Garage

If you still drive or assist an aging parent with a wheelchair, you may need to make adjustments to the garage. The three projects listed below vary in cost; however, they all ensure an accessible, secure garage:

  1. Build a ramp. Steps can be difficult to use, so replace them with a ramp. A no-rise entry delivers greater mobility, accessibility, and safety.
  2. Declutter the garage. Preventing trips and falls often requires de-cluttering. Throw out, donate, and store items to create a garage that’s easy to maneuver in.
  3. Install a smart garage door opener. Smart garage door openers increase home safety and security by automatically closing the door after a preset amount of time.

Hallways

Standard hallways aren’t conducive to walkers and wheelchairs. They may also present odd corners or dim lighting that increase the risk of a fall. Mitigate the concern with the following renovations and smart home technologies:

  1. Widen hallways and doorways. Doorways and hallways will need to be widened to provide adequate moving space for a walker or wheelchair.
  2. Install smart lighting. Smart lightbulbs and switches can often be easier to use than the traditional flip switch, increasing convenience, comfort, and safety.
  3. Use motion sensors. Smart motion sensors, like those sold by Z-Wave, can be integrated with smart lights so that they respond to movement, day and night.

Living Area

Your living area is probably where you spend the most time. These three projects guarantee a comfortable, safe place:

  1. Get rid of throw rugs. Just as you de-clutter the garage, de-clutter the living area. Give special attention to throw rugs, ottomans, coffee tables, and other loose items that could contribute to a fall.
  2. Invest in comfortable temperatures. No one likes to be too cold or hot. Make your living area “just right” with a smart thermostat that adapts to your preferences and daily routine.
  3. Consider a voice-activated assistant. Depending on how many smart home products you use, you may want to purchase an Amazon Echo, Google Home, or Apple HomePod. The smart home devices respond to your voice, streamlining day-to-day use and management.

Kitchen

The kitchen may be your happy place. But it can become an unhappy one if your mobility or ability to reach higher cabinets decreases. Avoid the situation with the home technologies and upgrades listed below:

  1. Design for mobility. Put spices and other kitchen items in reach by focusing on renovations that make the space functional. These spaces include things like pullout pantries, deep drawers, and shallow sinks.
  2. Install a smart smoke detector. A smart smoke detector offers several benefits, such as contacting emergency personnel in the event of an alarm. Most of the devices also let you know when it’s time to change the batteries, further increasing home safety and security.
  3. Think about buying a smart refrigerator. A smart refrigerator might seem like a luxury purchase. However, it can help you keep a running grocery list, as well as order groceries from your favorite supermarket.

Bathrooms

age in place Bathroom for people with disabilities
The bathroom contains a number of safety hazards from slippery floors to traditional commodes, perhaps explaining why it receives primary attention during aging-in-place remodels. Start your own bathroom renovation project with one of the following three ideas:

  1. Upgrade the faucets. Standard faucets can be challenging to use and, in some cases, even lead to burns. Prevent the frustration and safety risk with a single-lever faucet.
  2. Remodel tubs, showers, and commodes. Conventional tubs, showers, and commodes can be dangerous to people of any age, but especially to people with lessened mobility. Remove the danger with a walk-in tub or shower and higher commode seat.
  3. Install slip-resistant flooring. Employing slip-resistant flooring – not only in the bathroom but also throughout the house – is one of the best ways to lessen fall risk and improve home comfort and safety.

Bedroom

Many of the projects found in the other areas of the home are applicable to the bedroom. Smart lighting and motion sensors, for example, aid with safety and convenience. Augment those two ideas with these three:

  1. Buy a new bed. Typical beds are difficult for older people to get into and out of. Limit the inconvenience and danger with a bed that isn’t too low to the ground.
  2. Convert a first-floor room. If you own a two-story home, you may want to convert a first-floor room into a master bedroom. It will increase convenience and decrease any struggles getting up and down the stairs.
  3. Install a stair liftinvesting in a stair lift. It’ll increase safety and accessibility and keep you in your home longer.

Not all homes are ready for a person wanting to age in place. But yours can be with the above checklist. Even better, your home will be comfy, cozy, safe, and secure.

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About The Author
Emily Long
Emily Long is a home safety and automation expert for SafeWise.com. She loves to geek out on new tech gadgets. When she isn’t writing about smart home tech or home safety and security, she can be found teaching yoga, road tripping, or hiking in the mountains.

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