Aging in Place and Remodeling

When your multigenerational family outgrows your home or needs aging in place options a remodel can help

By Kaye Swain

Are you caring for an elderly parent at home and toying with the idea of remodeling your home for any one of a variety of reasons, including adding aging in place options? Is the whole thought of dealing with a remodel scaring you? Especially when you are juggling that with caregiving responsibilities?

I know just how you feel! We added a bedroom and bathroom to our vintage 1940s home years ago to make room for our growing family. I stressed over the thought of all the dust getting everywhere, having strangers in my home all through the day, and if there would be times when the remodel could lead to areas that could not be locked at night.

We ended up working with contractors who were friends from church and over all, it went well. Even though there were some difficulties that arose while working with our friends, the high comfort level it gave me to know them made it all worthwhile.

I was reading an article about remodeling this week, which reminded me of that situation AND made me think through if it would be better or worse doing it now with aged parents.

Personally, I think I'd have a lot of the same concerns with my elderly parents. For example:

  • Nails, dust, and messes! Elderly seniors probably won't put things in their mouth like a toddler or go play hide and seek in the workman's area like older kids but they can definitely be a bit on the wobbly side so it would be vital for the contractor to be aware of that issue and work carefully to avoid hazards for our beloved seniors.
  • A door that can be locked is vital for all ages and particularly so for aging parents who may be in the stages of dementia that includes wandering, like my great aunt once upon a time. Communicating this issue with your contractor is definitely vital. Our guys knew our concerns about our young children and never left for the day without making sure our home was secure.
  • Construction workers who are safe around the family. I wanted people I knew and trusted around my family and I would want the same for the family living with me in this season of life. I discussed this carefully with my friends and they assured me they were cautious about who they hired. And thankfully, we never had any issues. Whether you hire someone you know or a stranger, be sure to thoroughly check out who you do hire - including at the governmental licensing agency they are under and the Better Business Bureau ( and make sure to hire someone who is licensed and bonded. And again, communication with the person in charge is key.

Remodeling, whether to add a room for a growing family or to add aging in place options for elderly parents, is never an easy process. Careful research and good communication are important components to making it go smoothly and safely.

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