Home Fixes for Aging Parents

Home Fixes for Aging Parents

With the downturn in the real estate market, many young adults have been forced to move back in with their parents. But it’s not a one-way street. Aging parents often rely on their middle-aged kids for housing when they can no longer take care of themselves, or want more steady companionship. According to Generations United, a Washington D.C.-based non-profit, one in six American families now live in multigenerational households. That’s a 10% increase since the start of the economic downturn in 2008.

Because more households are multi-generational, interest in universal design--that is a home that fits everyone living there--has started to gather steam. From stepless entries to wide doorways, and pull-out kitchen cabinetry to lever-type door handles, there are a variety of improvements you can make to your Palm Beach home that are just as useful to an aging mother as they are to a new mom with a baby.

According to Tom Ashley, who has special certification for remodeling homes for seniors, “When you pull up to your driveway, you don’t see all the obstacles your house poses for an older person. A flight of stairs or narrow doorways and a lack of a ground-floor bathroom may be the reason your mom isn’t visiting anymore.”

In the U.S., there are more than 3,700 remodelers, architects, builders, and designers that are certified to create spaces for aging dwellers. If you’re just getting started, bathrooms and transitions into your home are the best place to focus your time and attention. For example, a landscaped ramp or walkway will set you back approximately $2,000 to $5,000. A remodeled bathroom with accessible grab bars, elevated toilet and wheel-in shower will cost approximately $6,000 to $18,000, but could cost quite a bit more. In the bedroom, focus your attention on lighting, bed height, and safe flooring.

New York City gerontologist and interior designer Rosemary Bakker adds, “Area carpets can cause a fractured hip. Replace them with a bare floor or non-plush wall-to-wall carpeting and a thin underpad. A bed should be no higher than 18 to 24 inches, for ease in climbing in and out.”

Making these kind of changes may seem expensive at the onset of the project, however, compare that to assisted living facilities that can cost upwards of $60,000 per year, and a few remodeling projects will seem like major savings. Additionally, you will be adding value to your Palm Beach home, and it will be well-suited for you down the road if you plan to remain there.

If a remodel is totally out of the question, de-cluttering can go a long way to elder-proof your home. Rid your home of any lamps with cords that can be tripped on, or unstable furniture that your mother or father might grasp for if they lose their balance.

We are a team of agents who specialize in Palm Beach real estate. If you’re interested in learning more about beach communities in Palm Beach County, please contact our team of real estate experts here at Palm Beach Premier Real Estate.

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