How to make a home more accessible

How to make a home more accessible

Seniors who choose to live independently often must make their homes more accessible. Installing grab bars in bathrooms and indoor railings on steps, as well as altering exterior steps are the most popular requests, says Bob Alvis of F/X Repair & Remodeling in Portland, Ore.

The No. 1 mistake people make is buying cheap grab bars, which don't support the person's weight, says Alvis, who's certified in the NAHB Aging in Place program. "We've had customers who bought $15 grab bars," he says. "Good ones cost $60 or $80."

Alvis says rails can be installed along interior steps and around the landing, and extensions can be added to the top and bottom of the stairs. A new rail system can cost as much as $1,500, or pieces can be added to existing ones for $200 or $300.

Changing the dimensions of exterior steps can be a major expense, but seniors who have trouble climbing them might consider it a good investment. Using a wood overlay on top of concrete costs $1,000 to $2,000. A complete concrete redo could cost as much as $8,000.

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