Homeowners remodeling their houses to accommodate a disability are spending an average of $5,392, according to a report by Home Adviser. For seniors with mobility restrictions, this may include additions such as handrails and wheelchair ramps, as well as structural changes such as lowering counter tops and appliances.
According to a recent Houzz survey, 60% of people planning home improvement projects were upgrading their master bathrooms. That’s a pretty typical home improvement plan, but as the U.S. population ages, more homeowners and landlords are investing in disability renovations to accommodate senior tenants.
Currently, about 1 million Americans are living in senior living communities, but that number is expected to double by 2030. In short, the demand for senior-ready housing is only going to keep growing in the coming decade.
If you are planning to make such accessibility renovations for senior tenants, consider these tips:
- Prioritize Interior Accessibility: When accommodating a senior tenant, be thorough in considering the details of everyday home life that you might take for granted. If the individual uses a wheelchair, make sure that doorknobs, thermostats, sinks, toilets, mirrors, and other objects and appliances are all at the proper height. Consider installing a stair lift, and be sure that doorways are wide enough to fit a wheelchair or walker. Speak with the tenant about their individual needs.
- Remember Your Home’s Exterior: Just as the building’s interior needs to be accessible, the exterior will likely need accommodations as well. Speak with a contractor about installing a wheelchair ramp.
- Know Your Funding Options: Fortunately, landlords and homeowners have insurance and grant options for modifying their homes for seniors. Medicare, for example, may be able to provide assistance depending on the situation. For example, if a doctor prescribes use of a hospital bed at home, Medicare will pay for 80% of its rental, given that the tenant has met their deductible already. The patient, a Medigap plan, or the patient’s insurance handles the other 20%. There are a number of other grants available to help alleviate the cost of these disability renovations.
- Do A Walk Through: The best way to make sure that you are fully accommodating a senior’s needs is to run through some of their daily routines with them. Take note of any challenges and ask questions about what they want changed. Keep the process as open and transparent as possible.
- Involve A Medical Professional: As you are planning out home modifications for a senior tenant, involve their doctor to pinpoint their specific needs. While it’s important to be thorough, you don’t want to add any additional costs by making unnecessary changes.
Remember, The Fair Housing Act of 1968 gives all tenants the right to “reasonable modifications.” If you are a homeowner or landlord renting to a senior, remember that your tenant holds the right to accessibility. By complying with their expectations, as well as legal and ethical guidelines, you can assure the best possible quality of life for your tenants.