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Renovate your home for aging in place

Retirees-Retirement-Dog

Have you thought about renovating your home to age in place? Like most people thinking about this and in retirement, you’re probably wondering about the costs.

For an idea, consider these common aging-in-place renovations below and their cost estimates. Note that the estimates exclude installation, unless noted.

Bathroom

Considerations: slipping, falling, easy access from wheelchair to shower and toilet

  • Adding grab bars around the shower, bathtub or toilet ($50 to $100 each)
  • Replacing the toilet for one with a higher seat, typically 18 to 19 inches high ($300 to $500)
  • Adding a shower chair ($100) and replacing the fixed shower head with a hand-held unit ($50)
  • Cutting an opening in a bathtub to make it easier to step into ($500, plus $1,500 for installation)
  • Replacing the bathtub with a shower enclosure ($7,000 to $8,000)
  • Replacing the entire bathroom with a wet room with no thresholds; widening the space ($15,000 to $20,000)

Kitchen

Considerations: reaching, extending, bending, height, arthritis

  • Replacing upper cupboards by fitting floor-level cupboards with lower, pullout shelves (DIY pull-outs start at $70 per shelf)
  • Lowering countertops for wheelchairs (cost of materials and labour depends on project size)
  • Replacing cupboard knobs with lever handles for arthritis sufferers ($6 each)
  • Adding a single-handle, one-touch faucet ($65)

Entrances 

Considerations: entry by walker or wheelchair.

To determine required heights, measure from the ground to the door’s finished threshold; 1 vertical inch requires 1 linear foot.

  • Adding a ramp for 30 inches or under ($45/square foot)
  • Adding a porch lift for more than 30 inches; includes landscaping ($15,000 to $21,000)
  • Widening exterior doorway ($3,000)
  • Adding a lift to the front door ($7,000 new; $3,000 to $5,000 used)

Tip: for those who prefer the ramp or lift out of sight, a garage can provide cover.

Stairwells 

Considerations: slipping, climbing

  • Adding grip strips on hardwood ($200)
  • Adding a stair lift:
    • a straight stairway from one floor to another ($4,000 to $6,000)
    • a two-part stairway with a landing and a 90-degree turn ($12,000)
  • Converting stacked closets on two or more floors into an elevator ($15,000 to $40,000)

Other low-cost tips

  • At front threshold, use a paint finish with extra grip or add grip strips
  • Tape down carpet edges to avoid tripping
  • To mitigate potential vision impairment, paint rooms with brighter colours and install brighter light bulbs in the bathroom, front porch, shower, staircase, hallway and beneath kitchen cabinets
  • Convert a den, TV room or office on the main floor to a bedroom
  • Relocate the washer-dryer to the ground floor

Sources: AccessibleUniversity.com; Carla Berezowski, owner, Aging in Place, Calgary, and certified aging in place specialist; and Nicole Jackson, coordinator, policy and strategy, Accessible Housing, Calgary. Dollar figures are based on Calgary-area prices.

 

 

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