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Home renovations often center on upgrading the kitchen cabinets or selecting a new paint color for the bedroom, but as long as you are at it, a well-thought-out redesign might also include modifications to help you stay in your home as you grow older.
These alterations can start with simple things, like installing a grab bar in the bathroom or replacing doorknobs with lever handles. But if your budget allows for an entire kitchen or bathroom overhaul, it’s best to think about how you physically may change in the years to come and plan accordingly, said Heather Brin, the principal architect of Aging in Place Architecture in Port Jefferson, N.Y.
“These renovations are all about maintaining independence,” Ms. Brin said. “So if you have back pain now, then it’s smart to think about getting pullout shelves to minimize bending.”
Take Chandrakant Sheth of Woodside, Queens, a retired engineer and television repairman. At age 81, he has kept healthy with daily walks and is proud that he moves along at a faster clip than his 50-year-old son. He suddenly found himself less mobile, however, after he fell and fractured his right arm in September when a hurried passenger knocked into him as he stepped off a subway escalator.
Buttoning a shirt or taking a shower is now difficult and time consuming, he said. But he is able to navigate the bathroom well enough, since he had installed a grab bar in the bathroom several years ago for his wife, who has since died.
“I never had to use the bar until now, but I’m grateful it was already there,” he said.
More than one out of four Americans age 65 and older fall each year and one in five falls cause serious injury, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The city Department for the Aging said there were nearly one million adults age 65 and older living in the five boroughs of New York in 2010, but that number is expected to rise to about 1.35 million in 2030. As the city’s population ages, officials are urging homeowners and landlords to make age-in-place fixes. […]