We are constantly hearing how COVID-19 has affected people’s lives with changes that no one would have predicted a few years ago. Due to the global pandemic, many people have found themselves spending more and more time at home. This has led to people deciding to make home renovations a priority, creating a lot of business in the home modification market in Canada. Some homes are being adapted for seniors who want to remain in their home, while others make room to modify their houses into multi-generational dwellings.
Along with creating equity, homeowners are looking for renovations that will endure for many years to come without sacrificing style and comfort. Thus, creating a space for more and more seniors to age in place in the safety and comfort of their own home.
“Aging in place” is not a new concept by any means, although the pandemic situation has certainly boosted its popularity. Most individuals or families invest in their home with the expectation of it lasting at least their own lifetime if not for the next generation too. But circumstances can change; homes can become a burden or an obstacle, far from the ideal place to rest, shelter and enjoy. Leaving their home is often just not an option for many people, as it represents retirement savings or is quite often a source of equity.
Whatever the reason, seniors who decide to age in place need solutions to guarantee that they can do so both comfortably and safely. So, what do these solutions entail?
Homes for the Future: Design for Aging
This act of altering the design of a home with the idea of it lasting a lifetime has become known as “futureproofing”. A term used in many fields, to futureproof means to anticipate and remove any hazards or barriers before they become a problem, to ensure a healthy, active and comfortable future.
The principles of Universal Design are applied when futureproofing a home. These include making sure the design of a home is appropriate for each and every member of the household; so they can both access and utilize all aspects of a home throughout its lifespan. Despite many countries having already put these principles into practice, they still remain idealistic to some extent. To make homes truly senior-friendly, practical aspects of construction, needs outside the home, and even finances have to be considered both by the individuals themselves and society as a whole.
Do Home Modifications for Aging in Place Devalue a Property?
So, if we all know that futureproofing a home is necessary, particularly to keep seniors who decide to age in place safe, what’s stopping people?
There is a common misconception that real estate can lose value when it has been modified. In actual fact, quite the contrary is true. Installing a residential elevator, for example, can affect, and even increase, resale value.
Aging in Place Solutions
One typical aging in place home modification people look for is how to get up and down the stairs more easily. With a vast range of options, one popular solution is installing a stairlift or a home elevator. This can help residents move around their homes securely and in comfort. Such installations require the services of experienced professionals who can manage the needs of individual users regarding construction elements and the installation of specialized equipment. Needless to say, it isn’t just about employing skilled technicians. Choosing the right stairlift or home elevator – a piece of equipment that will aid seniors or people with reduced mobility to access their whole home – requires the expert knowledge of professional occupational therapists. Their expertise in the effects of aging and how a senior is able to interact with their surroundings as they change is invaluable.
The Technical Side of Aging in Place
As well as meeting the mobility needs of a home’s residents, certain technical specifications must also be met to allow for mobility devices to be fitted. This and the financial constraints of home modification are the main factors holding seniors back from updating their home to meet their needs. However, despite many clients’ expectations, these specifications are not as extensive as one might think.
When it comes to installing a stairlift, the big plus is no need to make structural changes to your property. There are two main considerations to take into account. Firstly, how much room there is at the top and bottom of the stairs for users to get in and out of the chair safely. And secondly, the shape of the stairs, to determine whether a straight or curved stairlift is needed.
When installing a home elevator, several aspects require consideration such as; the home’s pre-existing architecture, which areas need modifying to become accessible, plumbing, stairways, kitchen location and the grade of the house. However, as a freestanding structure, a home elevator needs neither hoistways nor shafts, making it a surprisingly versatile piece of equipment. Certainly, it is a solution worth investigating for those who wish to futureproof their home.
Safety and accessibility are top priorities for those who choose to age in place, whether they decide a home elevator or a stairlift is the right option for them or not. For each individual’s needs to be met, mobility and technical experts – such as the contractor, designer, OT and special equipment vendor – must work side by side to ensure the most appropriate solution is found.
This team of professionals understand that, for many, home is a comfort zone of familiar routines, neighbourhood support and where powerful memories are abundant. Their goal is to make sure each and every senior who decides to stay in their home can do so safely and comfortably.