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Home Accessibility Resources

Modernize Homeowners Seek "Aging in Place" Improvements

Aging in place is a serious concern for many Americans. A November 2021 Modernize survey of more than 2,000 homeowners across the United States found that a big majority – 69% – will explore aging in place options as they look at potential home remodels in 2022. So if you have been thinking about home improvements to help you retain your independence as you grow older, you’re not alone.

Who are these homeowners? About 63 percent of them are looking for home improvements for themselves, while another six percent are looking at home modifications for a loved one. At least 56 percent have lived in their home for more than 10 years, and of those individuals, at least 41 percent have lived in the same home for two decades. No wonder aging in place is so attractive to them!

aging in place improvements

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Home Improvements and Aging in Place

There are many home improvements a homeowner can tackle to help make their space safer and more secure. Here are some of the more common types of projects homeowners intend to pursue this year.

Walk-In Tubs

Walk-in tubs captured the interest of 17% of respondents, of which 49% said they hoped to remodel the entire bathroom when they installed the walk-in tub. But that might prove to be too extensive for some; 29% wanted to remodel just part of the bathroom, while 22% recognized that it is possible (in many cases) to simply pull out the old bathtub and install the new walk-in tub. Regardless of which route the homeowner wanted to take, a solid 86% of them wanted to finance the project.

What matters most when it comes to walk-in tubs? We asked, and they answered:

  • Lifetime warranty: 21.14%
  • Quality design: 18.64%
  • Quick fill/draining: 17.05%
  • ADA compliance: 11.36%
  • Massaging jets: 16.59%
  • Water temperature heater: 15.23%

Some of the main safety features of a walk-in tub were also attractive on their own to homeowners, such as the over 10% who were looking to include a seat within their shower (a standard feature of walk-in tubs or walk-in shower/tub combos), as well as grab bars.

Medical Alert System

Medical alert bracelets, pendants, and whole-house systems are a vital part of living independently. Though a bracelet might not be considered a home improvement, the system that it is attached to certainly is. Medical alerts can take the form of a simple phone-based system that allows a direct call to emergency services all the way to sensors and video cameras throughout the home capable of catching problems the moment they occur. About 12 percent of homeowners in our survey were interested in establishing a medical alert system in the home in 2022.

Stairlifts

From a few steps at the entrance to a long staircase that takes residents from one floor to another, most homes have stairs – and that can be a serious fall hazard for those who are frail or have limited mobility. Stairlifts come in a variety of types and offer numerous safety features. Over seven percent of those surveyed want to look into stairlifts for their home this year. 

Wider Hallways

Four percent of homeowners said wider hallways would be a home improvement that allows them to consider aging in place, especially if they wind up needing a wheelchair or a walker. Making hallways wider is no small feat, so this could turn into a serious home renovation project. Fortunately, it will likely contribute to resale value.

Non-slip flooring

Speaking of mobility, it’s important that the floors in a home be cleared of all potential trip hazards. Having throw rugs can invite a serious accident. Almost eight percent of homeowners want to go even further than removing rugs and other hazards by installing non-slip flooring that will allow anyone – from children to the elderly – to walk more confidently.

Threshold Ramp

A ramp to the doorway can help eliminate the worry of outdoor steps, which can be especially nice for aging in place during inclement weather. This benefits not only those who want to age in place, but any member of the family as well as those who come to visit. A threshold ramp has an added bonus of making it a breeze to get a wheelchair from the vehicle to the house. Seven percent of respondents intend to look into a ramp in 2022.

Grab Bars

Though grab bars are most common in the bathroom and especially in walk-in showers or tubs, they are important in other areas of the house, as well. Obviously it pays off to have a sturdy grab bar or two near any stairs in the home, but it can also help in kitchens, hallways, bedrooms (especially near the bed to help individuals in and out), or even near a favorite easy chair in the living room. Seven percent of respondents to the homeowner survey were interested in grab bars throughout the home.

Other Aging in Place Improvements

There are other improvements that homeowners would like to see as part of their aging in place plan. A bathroom expansion to accommodate a walk-in tub or even to make the room more accessible for a wheelchair is one option homeowners mentioned, as is a walk-in shower. An additional entrance, perhaps one that allows easier access to the kitchen, is also in the running. Improvements that might not directly help with aging in place on a day-to-day basis but will help keep the home safe and secure through the golden years include new windows, roofing, or flooring. Just over 26 percent of those surveyed intend to look at these other improvements in the coming year.   

Finding the Right Contractor for Aging in Place

When you’re ready to implement home improvements that can help you age in place, a good contractor is worth their weight in gold. When we asked homeowners what they considered first about a contractor, of course price took the top slot, with over 33 percent citing that as a factor that would determine who they go with. But other things matter, too:

  • Price: 33.44%
  • Expertise: 18.27%
  • Warranty: 18.89%
  • Brands offered: 9.91%
  • Certifications: 10.22%
  • Online ratings and reviews: 9.29%

Modernize can connect you with the best contractors to handle your home improvement needs. Get in touch today and let us connect you with contractors who are well-versed in home improvements specific to aging in place. In the meantime, check out our home accessibility checklist.

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