A couple weeks ago we sat down with Susanne Stadler, executive director of the Bay Area organization At Home with Growing Older, who told us that, when it comes to getting a home ready to age in place, she recommends starting with the bathroom and entryway. For that reason, we decided to take a closer look at these two areas of the home (as well as a few others) to find easy, inexpensive fixes and upgrades you can do yourself. And, if you want to take it a step further, how AAA House Manager can help.
Personal hygiene gets more difficult to maintain as we age, so access to your shower, sink, and other tools you need, should be made as easy as possible.
DIY: Start in the shower by cleaning your shower head for improved performance. Good Housekeeping has some simple tips. Also consider installing a detachable shower head, which can start for as low as $20, to make showering much easier, especially if needing to sit.
House Manager Help: A bigger project would be to install an all new shower system. You’ll be able to choose features you’re interested in — a rainfall and hand-held shower head combo or digital temperature controls — to ensure your showering experience is as comfortable as possible.
DIY: The quality of your water and condition of your faucets are also important. Hard water is hard on the skin, hard on appliances, and creates calcium build up. Ranging from $35-60, a filter can be added to your shower head to help soften the water and ease wear. Also at risk of build up is the aerator on your faucet, which can get clogged with minerals, block pipes and decrease the flow of water. The Spruce put together these simple steps to help keep your aerator clean.
House Manager Help: As part of their twice yearly visits, your House Manager will check the condition of the aerators on all your faucets and clean as necessary. If hard water is an issue throughout your home, your House Manager can install a new filtration system that will take care of the problem for the entire house.
It’s important that access to and from your home is easy, not just for you as the homeowner but for your guests as well. There should be plenty of light and support for anyone who is unsteady on their feet.
DIY: Light up your walkway by installing battery operated movement detector lights. These can range $20-50, depending on their features, and are easy enough to install within an hour. Outdoor solar lights are another good option, just remember that they’ll likely go dim at some point during the night. Something to keep in mind this time of year as it’s getting darker earlier.
House Manager Help: The next step would be to install all new hardwired motion detecting lights. Your House Manager will set the lights on a timer to ensure they stay lit for as long as you need. We’ll choose ones with solar backup, just in case, and use LED bulbs that drain less power and keep your energy bill down.
House Manager Bonus: Safety and security become even more important as you age. There are strict code requirements in place for railings on staircases (which is why we don’t have an easy DIY for this one), that may affect your front entrance. Your House Manager will inspect existing stair and guard rails for proper placement and condition. If needed, new rails can be installed. And if stairs are not an option around your home, we can install ramps instead.
Around the House
In the kitchen
DIY: A properly working dishwasher is going to make life easier and shorten the time you spend on your feet washing dishes. Keep everything working smoothly by cleaning your dishwasher air gap and garbage disposal. Once a month, use a product like Affresh or Finish. For less than $10, you can keep the inside of your dishwasher looking (and smelling) like new.
House Manager Help: If something does go wrong with your dishwasher or garbage disposal and a good clean isn’t going to get the job done, your House Manager will come in to diagnose the problem. It could be you need the dishwasher drain line replaced or garbage disposal reset. If it gets to the point where you absolutely need a new appliance, your House Manager can provide suggestions on what to buy, and install the new one for you.
In the Laundry Room
DIY: Your dryer vent should be cleared of lint every six months to decrease the risk of fire and keep your machine running efficiently. A kit, which includes a brush and extender, usually runs around $20. And, similar to your dishwasher, Affresh tabs can be used to keep your washing machine sparkling clean.
House Manager Help: If you’re ready to upgrade your washer and dryer, we suggest switching to ENERGY STAR certified appliances. An ENERGY STAR washing machine alone uses 25% less energy and 33% less water than standard washing machines, which is good for your pocketbook. Also consider a front load washer, which is easier to load without having to bend over to lift out wet, heavy clothes. Your House Manager can install your new appliances for you and make sure they’re hooked up properly.
DIY: Lubricating your windows will make them easier to open and close, which is especially important in older homes where windows tend to get stuck. Use WD40 to spray tracks and weather stripping to keep them rolling smoothly.
House Manager Help: Single pane windows can leave your home vulnerable to dramatic temperature changes, which we grow more sensitive to as we age. If it’s time for an upgrade, your House Manager can install all new double pane gas filled windows which are more energy efficient.
While it’s necessary to invest time and effort into preparing a home for aging in place, it’s possible to many of the improvements on your own. Just set your budget and timeline, then tackle projects in order of importance. If you need a little extra help, your AAA House Manager is available with guidance and expertise.