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How to Elder-Proof Your Investment Property

Increasingly, older people are renting rather than owning. This offers a new market for property investors and has significant advantages.

Older people are more likely to be reliable tenants – paying rent on time, not holding wild parties or knocking holes in walls, and (generally) not setting up P labs in the basement. In short, they are a good market to be in.

But, older people suffer from more ailments that reduce their ability to do everyday tasks most of us never think about. Which means houses may need to be elder-proofed if that’s the target market for your investment property.

Here is a handy list of items from you can easily add to your property that makes it attractive and safe for older people.

Install a Handheld Showerhead with Grab Bar

For people with limited mobility or who prefer to shower while seated, a handheld showerhead on a sliding rail allows for individual adjustment as well as acting as a grab bar. Just make sure it will take the weight of someone using it to hold themselves upright.

Widen Doorways with Offset Hinges

Navigating narrow doorways is tough for someone using a wheelchair or walker. To widen doorways, replace existing hinges with expandable offset door hinges. These are designed to swing the door clear of the opening and add 5cm of clearance.

Replace Toggle Switches with Rocker Switches

It’s easier for stiff or arthritic hands to press flat, rocker-style switches than to manipulate toggles as they can be operated with a finger, knuckle or elbow.

Replace Cabinet Knobs with Handles

Arthritis and stiff joints make grabbing small round knobs on cabinet drawers and doors difficult. Replace these small knobs with C- or D-shaped pulls, which let you tuck your fingers around them, making it easier to open the door or drawer.

Extend Stair Rails

Handrails for exterior stairs typically end at the bottom step. But stepping off the bottom step (or preparing to step up on it) is when someone is the most off balance and likely to fall. Instead, build an extended handrail that reduces the risk of falls.

Add ‘Invisible’ Grab Bars

Grab bars can make a home look institutional so instead hide them in plain sight disguised as towel racks, toilet paper holders, corner shelves and more.

Replace Doorknobs with Levers

Gripping and twisting a doorknob can be hard for people with arthritis or a loss of dexterity in their hands. Lever handles solve that problem. Simply press down on the lever to release the door latch without gripping anything.

Add Grab Bars Near Exterior Doors

Grab bars are useful near exterior doors, inside and out, for people who are unsteady on their feet and find the simple act of opening a door difficult. A grab bar gives them something to hang onto near house and garage entrances and steps.

Lay Low-Pile Carpet

Thick carpet pile over a thick pad is the worst for anyone who is unstable walking – it increases the likelihood of tripping and falling. It also makes it more difficult to push and maneuver wheelchairs and walkers. To make getting around easier, install a low-profile commercial-grade “level loop” or “cut pile” carpet.

Install Handrails in Hallways

Long hallways can be tough on people with limited mobility, which is why so many senior care centers have continuous handrail systems. Consider adding the same safety feature to your investment property.

Change to LED Lightbulbs

The average home has 40 lightbulbs. Changing a burnt-out bulb often involves climbing a ladder or step stool and risking a nasty fall. If you replace those lightbulbs with LEDs, there’s a good chance they won’t need to be changed again in several years.

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