Baby boomers — those born between 1946 and 1964 — are hoping to do what Star Trek's Spock always encouraged, "Live long and prosper." But living long has its consequences. Joints sometimes begin to ache, making negotiating steps painful and difficult. And eyesight begins to fail, which can lead to more frequent falls. So if you're a baby boomer who is hoping to remain in your home as you age, you may want to make some changes to make it more suitable for your needs as you grow older. A great time to make these modifications? The next time you have a repair that needs to be done or during your next remodeling job.
Install Raised Toilets
Has your toilet seen better days? Have you noticed water puddling around its base? If the plumber you called advises you that you have a bad seal or some other problem where they have to remove the toilet, you might want to consider asking them to replace your current unit with a comfort height toilet, which has a seat height between 17 and 18 inches tall, during the other plumbing repairs. That is about the same height as a chair. For some reason, traditional toilets usually have a seat height around 15 inches or shorter. These lower seats can become a pain as you age, especially if your joints start acting up, as you may find it more difficult to get on and off the lower seat.
Remodel the Main Floor Bathroom
Were you planning on doing any remodeling of your main floor half bathroom? If so, it could be beneficial to you in the long run if you were to hire a plumber to convert it into a full bathroom. There are several reasons why having a shower or bathtub on the first floor can be a great convenience as you age, including:
- Post-surgery use. As you age, you may need to undergo a hip or knee replacement, hysterectomy or some other major surgery. Many of these surgeries forbid a patient to climb stairs for a period of time post-surgery. So if you don't have a place to wash up on the main level, you will have to be cleaned via a sponge bath.
- Moving sleeping quarters downstairs. As you age, you might decide that it makes more sense to avoid stairs altogether and use a lower-level room as a bedroom. If so, having a full bathroom downstairs makes a lot of sense.
When planning a kitchen remodel, you should consider making certain modifications that will make your senior years more comfortable, including:
- Lowering the height of the sink OR adding one that is designed to accommodate a wheelchair.
- Adding shelves that pull out in your lower cabinets so that you don't have to spend a lot of time bending and searching for items hidden out of sight in the back. A bonus? According to the Washington Post, modifications like these may even be tax deductible as a medical expense.
- Changing the flooring in your kitchen to one that is non-slip. If the flooring is expensive and you don't want to replace it, try applying an anti-slip treatment to its surface.
If you are planning to age in place in your house, it makes a lot of sense to complete these types of modifications slowly over time and as the situations present themselves instead of waiting until you can't live without them. Remodeling can take weeks, even months to complete, so if you wait until you absolutely need an accommodation, you may find yourself doing without for a while. And there's always the possibility that you may not have the funds to make these modifications once you retire.