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Aging in Place Home Improvement Ideas

Growing old in your home has become a dream for many Americans. With the Baby Boomers creeping past retirement age, lots of people are looking for ways they or their parents can modify their homes in order to grow older there.

Aging at home has countless advantages. People feel comfortable in the houses where they raised their families. They may feel scared of moving to a place where they won’t know other people. A home may hold treasured memories of spouses who have passed away. It can also offer comforting familiarity to someone entering the early stages of memory loss.

Aging in place does require some advanced planning. When you take steps such as installing a wheelchair lift, home dumbwaiters or a home elevator, it can become less daunting.

7 Aging in Place Home Improvement Ideas

Set up your home to anticipate issues you or your loved one may face while growing older. Installing new appliances and removing items that lack long-term practicality will make aging in place much easier. We recommend the following seven home improvement ideas to transform your house.

1. Place Grab Bars

Many older adults develop mobility issues. Installing grab bars in parts of the house that pose the highest risk to low-mobility individuals can reduce the chances of an accident. Grab bars are metal bars attached to the wall, strategically positioned in places where you might need extra support. You may want to install grab bars:

  • On either side of the toilet
  • In the shower
  • Next to your bed

Make sure to use sturdy grab bars that can support the weight of whoever will use them. Most grab bars can hold up to 250 pounds. If you need something with more capacity, you may have to look into specially made bars.

Anyone can install grab bars, though it does demand a precise approach. The bars should be at the right height for the person they’re meant to help, so ask that person to remain nearby when you install so that you can take measurements. Screw the bars into wall studs so that they won’t pop out.

2. Use Outdoor Ramps or a Wheelchair Lift

Many homes require you to climb at least one or two stairs to get to the front door. As you age, this process becomes more difficult, and not just for people in wheelchairs. Older adults may struggle with their balance, which makes navigating stairs difficult. You have two choices to address this problem:

  • Outdoor ramp: If you do not currently use a wheelchair, this installation may be your best option, as you can still navigate an outdoor ramp if you do get a wheelchair later. Unless you have experience with carpentry or contracting, you’ll likely need to employ a contractor to get this work done.
  • Wheelchair lift: A residential wheelchair lift works like the one you would install in a van. It raises and lowers a wheelchair so that you can get from the ground to the porch and wheel yourself in the door. This solution requires professional installation.

3. Install a Home Elevator

As you age, navigating stairs becomes more difficult. Many older adults who do not require the use of a wheelchair may still suffer from balance issues. Diabetes and other conditions common among older adults can impair feet and legs, which makes stair usage more difficult. If you have a multi-story home, consider installing a home elevator.

Home elevators offer a practical, affordable solution to being unable to go up or down stairs. An elevator installed with your customized options will allow you to stay in your home for a longer time and alleviate worries about falling down the stairs or being unable to get down from a higher floor. When you get your elevator installed, look for these features:

  • Handrails inside the cab
  • Simple and intuitive operating panel
  • LED ceiling lights

If you have specific design requests, you can even choose a company that will allow you to have a professional designer customize the final look of the inside of the cab. This investment will even pay off by raising the resale value of your house.

4. Change Flooring

You may love the gorgeous high-pile carpet you had installed in your living room a decade ago. But as you age, you need to adjust your flooring to meet your mobility requirements. If you use a walker, for instance, plush carpeting will impede your ability to get across the room. Those in wheelchairs may prefer no carpeting at all. You should discuss your special requirements with a flooring professional who can recommend solutions specific to your situation and home layout.

Other ideas for redoing your floors include the following:

  • Make flooring contrast when the height of the surface changes between rooms as a signal that it goes up or down.
  • Install gentle up and down ramps from each room to ease the surface transition.
  • Put a firm pad beneath any carpeting.
  • Pick a carpet that’s less than a half-inch high.
  • For rooms without carpet, install non-glare, smooth surfaces that also resist slips.

5. Update Lighting

As you get older, your eyesight often gets worse. You may have trouble seeing objects both close and far away. Adjusting your light can assist you with this problem. You’ll want more and stronger lighting. Some areas you should concentrate on include:

  • Task lighting: Improve the lighting where you perform tasks, such as in your garage or kitchen, to decrease the odds of hurting yourself while you work.
  • Stairs: Add lights on stairs to aid you with getting up and down, which becomes harder when you have balance issues or problems with feet or leg function.
  • Closets: If you don’t have overhead lights in your closets, add them so that you can see what you’re looking for.

In addition to improving your lighting, you want to make it accessible. Those who use wheelchairs may want to move light switches down. May older adults find their fine motor skills declining, so swapping out light switches for pads or dimmers may make it easier to turn lights on and off. In addition, adding more light switches, such as one on either side of a room, means you won’t have to cross over a room just to turn out a light.

6. Incorporate a Home Dumbwaiter

Carrying groceries up your stairs becomes more challenging as you age. You could hurt a hip or end up in the hospital if you fall on the stairs while trying to bring food from your car to your kitchen. Installing a home dumbwaiter will give you a new way to complete this task. Dumbwaiters are essentially small elevators that you can send from floor to floor carrying inanimate objects. You can get them with automated controls and to match your home interior to make floor-to-floor transportation a breeze.

7. Install Arthritis-Friendly Knobs

Many individuals over the age of 65 suffer from arthritis, which can make it difficult to grasp things in their hands. Arthritis-friendly knobs have levels you only have to push down to enter. Replace knobs throughout the home, including ones for closets and front doors.

These changes to your home will make aging in place much easier. Do you need assistance with a home elevator or dumbwaiter installation? If so, contact us to set up an appointment, or find a dealer near you.

Do I Need Annual Home Elevator Maintenance?

As more and more people choose to enjoy the convenience of an elevator in their home, they also start asking the same question: Do they need annual home elevator maintenance?

The short answer to that question is yes. The better you take care of your elevator, the longer it will last, and annual maintenance plays a role in that preventative care. Is it possible to skip an annual? Yes, but we wouldn’t put it off for too long. Elevators are complex machines, and all complex machines require attentiveness. We’ve put together a guide to determine when you should get maintenance, and we’ve also outlined the benefits of this service.

How Often Do Home Elevators Need Maintenance?

Generally speaking, the more maintenance you perform on your elevator, the better. The best way to ensure these machines continue to run smoothly is to address small problems before they turn into big ones, and if you go for more than a year without home elevator maintenance, you may find yourself dealing with some big problems.

How often you should get maintenance for your home elevator depends on a number of factors, such as:

  • Model: What type of elevator you installed may impact how often your elevator requires maintenance. Depending on the type, it could even require more frequent inspections than annually. You may have parts that need more vigilant attention. Consult with the company that installed your elevator to find out their recommendation. We always talk to our customers about maintenance needs when we install a home elevator.
  • Contract: You may have a contract with the installation company that designates a certain number of inspections. If so, you should take advantage of those opportunities and get the service. That’s one less thing you’ll have to think about if inspections are already scheduled to occur.
  • Location: Does your town have any regulations regarding home elevator usage and inspection? Some municipalities put these regulations in place as a precaution to ensure homeowners take proper care of their elevators and don’t run into long-term troubles. You should contact your local city government to inquire about any inspection regulations. You should do so when you have your elevator installed as well to discuss any permits or fees that might be required.

Benefits of Regular Home Elevator Maintenance

Why should you get regular maintenance for your home elevator? It’s really a matter of preservation for your investment. The more attention you give the elevator’s upkeep, the longer it will last and the more efficiently it will run. You likely see similar results for other appliances or tools. When you question whether you should get your annual inspection, keep the following five advantages of regular maintenance in mind:

  1. Save money: Repairing a snagged wire or replacing a small component won’t cost a lot of money, but if that snagged wire snaps or the component breaks, it could cause serious damage to the rest of the elevator, which will take a lot of money to fix. By addressing small matters when they come up, you can decrease the likelihood of a serious issue arising with your elevator and save yourself those expenses.
  2. Gain peace of mind: Your family uses your elevator every day. You want to keep them safe, and knowing that your elevator has been examined, inspected and given a thumbs up will give you reassurance. Regular elevator maintenance is insurance against worrying about whether all your parts are up to date or your cables are worn.
  3. Form a habit: You don’t think twice about scheduling your annual car inspection because it’s a habit. It’s something you do every year, and it has become second nature. Getting regular elevator maintenance can become a habit too. In fact, you may even want to schedule it the same month as your car inspections so you have a reminder that it’s that time of year.
  4. Trust an expert: If you use a home elevator maintenance checklist, you can take care of a number of small items yourself. For instance, you can find scratches in a ceiling or a burnt-out light. But you may need assistance to identify the more serious issues. Finding an expert you trust to perform an inspection also gives you someone to call if your elevator exhibits a problem. Knowing and trusting your elevator mechanic will set you up for a better experience overall.
  5. Learn more about your elevator: Many people who get elevators in their homes are fascinated by mechanical gadgets. Practicing annual elevator maintenance will give you a chance to indulge this side of your personality. You might even find yourself looking forward to it!

Are you interested in learning more about home elevator maintenance? Or have you been thinking about getting a home elevator and want to know your options? Contact us today by filling out our online form or finding a dealer near you. We look forward to helping you!

Home Elevator Maintenance Checklist

Do you have an elevator in your home? To ensure it continues to run properly, you need to practice home elevator maintenance just as you would for a car. Think of it as preventative care. If you can spot a problem with the elevator early, you can address it, and it won’t grow into a bigger issue. So how do you know what you should be looking for?

Proper Maintenance Checklist From Home Elevator Professionals

We’ve put together a checklist you can follow to ensure you give every part of the elevator proper care. Set aside time to do this inspection regularly, and work methodically through each piece of the checklist.

Inside the Cab

Complete these five steps inside the cab:

  1. Test and replace any burned-out indicator lights.
  2. Look over the walls, handrails and ceiling of the cab and note any damage, such as scratches or cracks.
  3. Examine the deceleration, acceleration and leveling accuracy of the cab while it’s in motion, if anything it out of whack, it may require some adjustments.
  4. Test the door restrictor. If it isn’t working the right way, you should find an elevator specialist to make some small repairs.
  5. Watch the door open and close. Does it bounce or slam? It should go back and forth smoothly.

Did you note anything you couldn’t fix yourself? Start a running list of issues with the elevator. At the end of your checklist, you may need to call in a professional to assist you, and it will help if you can tell them exactly what the problems are.

Outside the Cab

Use these three steps to check the outside of the cab:

  1. Look over the lights and hall stations, swapping out any that aren’t working.
  2. Examine the clearances and the door panel.
  3. Test the Phase 1 firefighters’ service to ensure it works.

Drive System

Before you begin these three steps for the drive system, get anything that isn’t supposed to be in the machine room out. Next:

  1. Measure your oil levels, adding some if they’re low.
  2. Search electrical components to see if they have overheated or failed.
  3. Look for leaks, vibration or wear on other components, and lubricate them if needed.

The drive system may require professional assistance if you note anything wrong. While you can probably change out lights and add oil yourself, more complex issues should be handled by someone with experience because you might make the problem worse if you handle it yourself.

Top of Cab

The top of the cab requires a patient examination. Complete these six steps in order:

  1. Dust off anything that may have accumulated on the top of the cab.
  2. Inspect the function of the inspection station and stop switch.
  3. Look over all the components within your view, including leveling devices and rollers.
  4. Examine the door operator to make sure it functions correctly.
  5. Search for signs of wear on the traveling cables. Test connections to make sure they work.
  6. Look carefully for evidence of rodents or vandalism in the hoistway. This step is also a good time to ensure fire safety in the space.


Finally, your last stop should be checking out the pit using the following six steps:

  1. Check for leaks.
  2. Search for corrosion on the spring buffers, and check that they align properly.
  3. Inspect switches, safeties, rollers and all other visible components for wear.
  4. Examine the travel cable for pinches or snags.
  5. Test the GFI outlet, stop switch and lights.
  6. Finish by looking at the sump pump and making that it’s functioning correctly.

How to Find a Home Elevator Maintenance Expert

After your self-check, you may need someone to help you with repairs or take a second look at a component. Contact us to discuss your needs or find your local Inclinator dealer.

Home Elevator vs. Stair Lift

home elevator living room

Many homes have more than one level, and most of them require climbing up and down the stairs to access those levels. Unfortunately, not everyone can manage this movement. Whether your home includes someone in a wheelchair or you have an aging parent who has difficulty navigating stairs on their own, you need an alternative to assist your loved one with moving from floor to floor.

The good news is, you have options. Home elevators and stair lifts both provide vital assistance to people who cannot climb stairs. Which one offers a better fit for your household? Let’s explore the possibilities.

Pros of a Home Elevator

  • Flexible installation locations throughout your home
  • Complete configuration and design customization
  • Safest and most improved home mobility
  • Increase in home value

Home elevators offer many benefits. They prove a convenient way for residents who use wheelchairs or experience difficulty walking to move between the floors of your home and are intuitive to operate. Our home elevators can accommodate up to six levels, making the journey to the attic or basement much faster for those with limited mobility.

Here are some of the biggest advantages of choosing a home elevator over a stair lift.

1. Flexible Installation Locations

You can put your home elevator practically anywhere in the house — you’re not limited to a single area. Imagine the possibilities. You could have the elevator in the back of your home, where guests can’t see it, or make it the focal point of the entryway. You may decide to place it near the bedroom of the person who most needs its services. Stair lifts, by contrast, can only be placed in one area of the home — on the stairs.

2. Customizable Configuration and Design

Stair lifts can be difficult to disguise within a home’s aesthetic and often draw unwarranted attention. You can customize the design of your elevator to meet your decor preferences. Do you love modern? Traditional? Even something with a little country flair is fair game when you get to pick the design. You’ll even have options for the configuration that powers your system, such as:

  • Cable drum
  • MRL overhead cable drum
  • Hydraulic

3. Safe and Improved Home Mobility

Elevators give those with limited mobility a chance to do things independently. They can get into and out of the elevator by themselves, unlike with a stair lift, where they may require assistance. Elevators are safe spaces, too. Handrails give people something to lean on. They don’t have to balance in a moving chair that could stop or start unexpectedly. With an elevator, they can take control of their movement — which many people appreciate.

4. Increases Home Resale Value

Home improvements often increase the resale value of a home. An elevator is an especially valuable addition because it makes the house accessible to more people. When you pay for an elevator in your home, you’re making an investment in the future. Not only will the resale value of your home rise, but you’ll also attract more people interested in your house because of that versatility.

5. Safety and Reliability

Today’s home elevators include a variety of safety features, helping you move around your home with ease and peace of mind. Additional safety features like space guards can ensure safety, especially for children who may use a home elevator. A phone inside the elevator, an emergency stop, lights and more help keep everyone safe. By riding an elevator, guests and family members can avoid falls on a staircase and access your home safely.

Cons of Stair Lifts

  • Difficult to conceal and sticks out in your home’s design
  • Limited to no customization to match your home
  • Does not add to home resale value
  • Bulky equipment that takes up staircase space

Stair lifts provide another option for those with limited mobility get around the house. However, unlike elevators, stair lifts come with several drawbacks. Their limited range and single-rider design are a few of the more apparent efficiencies of stair lifts. Here are some of the other cons of installing a stair lift.

Difficult to Conceal

Everyone can see stair lifts and they are often not the most attractive addition. There’s no cover or drape that you can put over it. Visitors and guests will instantly see the bulky lift — there are few options on the market for disguising stair lifts.

Few Design Options

With an elevator, you can choose the cab style, the design and the types of materials used. Stair lifts are far less easy to customize. Essentially all chair lifts have the same design. You may not even have a choice of color, depending on where you get your lift.

Does Not Increase Home Resale Value

Stair lifts are not a highly desirable feature in a home, so they won’t raise the resale price of your house. You won’t get back the money you put into installing the stair lift. In fact, you may even limit the number of potential buyers. If someone doesn’t want a stair lift in their home, they’ll have to pay to have it removed, which is a high initial cost. They’ll likely look at other houses instead.

Takes up Stair Space

Many homes have relatively narrow stairways. Some also have steep stairways. Just getting up and down these stairwells under normal circumstances can feel challenging. When you add a stair lift, you narrow the existing space even more. The addition of a stair lift can make residents and guests feel like they have to squeeze themselves around the lift just to get up and down the stairs.

That lack of space can also make it more difficult to do everyday tasks such as bringing in groceries or moving something from one floor to the other. The chair on the stair lift will get in the way. If the staircase is narrow enough, lifts can potentially create safety hazards if people must dramatically maneuver around them.

Shop Home Elevators

If you’re trying to decide between a stair lift and a home elevator, the answer is probably clear to you now. You can receive more value, enjoy more versatility and get more return from a home elevator. And with so many options to choose from, you’re sure to find something that fits your house perfectly.

Are you ready to begin shopping? We have a selection of home elevators to suit your unique needs. Our dedicated team can discuss the best options for your home based on size, style and budget. Get in touch with us today by calling 800-343-9007 or contact your local dealer to get started. We look forward to helping you.

Updated: 12/06/2019