Ageing in Place: 5 Things to Consider When Renovating

As you hit your 60s, it may be a good time to think about some simple renovations that will make your home more comfortable and safer for your later years.  As you grow older, you will have physical challenges that you may not have when you are younger – and this is a good time to take some action.  Renovating your home is always a big task and timing is everything.

Here are the 5 things you should look at when making your renovation plans.

  • Fall prevention should be top of mind.  Most falls occur between the bedroom and bathroom.  If you are still using a bath tub, consider replacing it with a walk-in shower that is easier to get in and out.  Make sure that you also replace the tiles in the bathroom with non-slip tiles.  Heavy grab bars in the right places are also important to prevent falls.  Most of the newer HDBs or condos have smaller bathrooms – changing to a folding door instead of a normal swing door will also make access easier.
  • Round doorknobs that are difficult to grip is commonly used in most homes in Singapore.  Changing them to lever-style handles will make it easier to use.  If you have arthritis or a weaker grip, you will appreciate the change.
  • The kitchen is a dangerous place for seniors especially if you forget to turn a burner or stove off.  If you do not plan to do Chinese wok-styled cooking, an electric or induction cooker may be safer.  Many electric models comes with safety timers.  If you must use gas to cook, CityGas in Singapore offers several models that has safety timers built in.  The timers will cut off the gas in case you forget to turn it off.  Also ask about “flame-failure” cutoff safety feature — which simply cuts off the gas if the flame accidentally goes out.  For added safety, fire and smoke detectors/alarms are relatively inexpensive today.
  • Even if you do not need it now, you should also consider how to make your home accessible to wheelchairs.  For most, it is not possible to widen the doors but there are a few things you can still do.  Simple ramps can make a big difference.
  • Affordable digital technology can help add to your comfort and safety.  Digital entry system or locks is a great place to start.  Key-less entry system is useful if you do not want to fumble with keys to get in and out.  More advanced features may include being able to remotely program your lock to give your visitor temporary access to your home by sending them an access code — all this while you are away.

If you are living in HDB, there is also financial assistance for seniors to make their home safer – check out the Enhancement for Active Seniors Program (EASE) that subsidises up to SGD$2250 for a 5-Room HDB. What are you waiting for?

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