Aging-in-Place in Style

Remodeling a bathroom as you near retirement? Incorporating aging-in-place elements is a smart move and there’s no need to sacrifice style.

According to an article on U.S. News & World Report, a 2015 survey of 152,939 people who use Houzz, the popular home design website, found that more than half of homeowners over the age of 60 have no plans to move. What they do plan on doing is remodeling. The same survey found that approximately 20% of older homeowners tackle a renovation project every year.  The survey also noted that, while the primary reason for people nearing retirement age to renovate was improving overall aesthetics, most were making choices that would facilitate their ability to remain in their homes as they grew older.

With millions of baby boomers nearing or at retirement age, the homebuilding market has taken note of this ‘aging-in-place’ building trend and has begun offering products which appeal to consumers’ desires for a better-looking home as well as one that will allow them to grow old gracefully…at home.

While some aging-in-place features – such as adding a first-floor master suite or widening hallways – can only be done as part of a major remodel, there are smaller changes that can be made during a pre-retirement renovation which will have a large impact on your ability to remain in your home longer.

If your renovation plans include redoing a bathroom, and you’ll be replacing a tub with a walk-in shower, consider going with a curb-less shower with a door that’s wide enough to accommodate a walker or wheelchair. While installing a curb-less shower used to be significantly more expensive than a typical walk-in shower, that’s no longer the case.

“We used to have to rip out an entire floor to install a zero-threshold shower so it could be pitched to allow it to drain properly,” said Linda Bussiere, a kitchen and bath designer in our West Yarmouth showroom. Because it involved removing existing floor joists, this step alone might cost $5,000. TrueDEK, a new product from ARC – a company that specializes in level-entry showers and accessible bathroom products – means that’s no longer true.

“With TrueDECK, only the area where the shower’s pan will be located has to be cut out, and you don’t have to remove floor joists because it’s set on top of them,” said Linda. “The pan can be cut too, so even if there’s a weird configuration, it can still be used,” she said, adding, “And it’s stunning! No one is going to walk into your bathroom and think ‘This is a handicap bathroom.’”

Other items to consider now to simplify aging-in-place later include vanities and faucet handles. Houzz has an entire category devoted to ADA compliant vanities, most of which have a chic, minimalist look. And faucets with levers, rather than knobs, are easier to use when reaching up from a wheelchair as well as if arthritis becomes an issue at a later date.

With thoughtful planning, your new bathroom can be a striking space that will suit your needs today just as well as it does in the future.