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June 12, 2021 — Thanks to the 200 people who took our Home Readiness for Retirement Quiz. The Topretirements community appreciates the few minutes you took to assess your home’s readiness. We hope that you found the exercise useful. We know we did, our grab bars were installed today! Here are the results of the survey, with several surprises mixed in with findings that were more predictable.

The point of the quiz is to make sure that wherever you decide to live in retirement, your home is a safe place that lets you age gracefully in place. The good news is that most homes can be retrofitted to get there. Those without a first floor bedroom/bath option face a more problematic situation.

Overall Conclusions:

Almost three quarters (77%) of our Members have a bedroom/bath on the first floor, which is great news. They should be able to stay in their homes regardless of their mobility in the future.

Grab bars are another big issue. It is not a big surprise, but the majority of our Members and visitors (70%) do not have grab bars in critical places in their homes like bathrooms. Fortunately this is an easy fix, a good grab bar costs only about $20 and is relatively easy to install (unless you have a fiberglass shower enclosure).

Shower thresholds are a problem as well. Only 25% of survey respondents reported that their shower threshold was 1″ or less. That is not only a problem for wheelchair access, should you have to use one, but the stretch required to get over a bathtub can easily result in an injury or fall.

Most people have level first floors with no elevation change. About 80% or quiz takers said there are no steps to go up or down on the first floor of where they live. That is great because it not only reduces the chances of a fall from an unnoticed floor level change, but it makes moving around a lot easier for people using canes, walkers, or wheelchairs. For the 20% with step up or down there are usually solutions, like short ramps.

About half can enter their homes without having to go up more than one step. My late father-in-law often viewed the three steps he had to climb from the garage to his first floor as a mini-Matterhorn. Ramps can usually fix this problem unless there is a shortage of space.

The penetration of levers on doors instead of knobs could be improved. Just over half (55%) of people taking the quiz so far have levers on the doors that go to key areas in their homes.

Detailed results

Other results from the Quiz are shown below:

  1. How many steps do you have to climb to reach your first floor from outside or garage?
None or 149%
2-438%
5 or more13%

2. On your first floor, do you have to take any steps up or down to get to any rooms?

None79%
1 or More22%

3. To enter your home or key rooms within it, what type of door handles to you have?

Looks like there is room for improvement in this area.

Lever Handles53%
Doorknobs45%
Other2%

4. Is there a first floor master bedroom with bath?

This is the hardest thing to fix to make a home suitable for aging in place. The good news is over 3/4 of survey takers already have a first floor master. But if there is no bedroom/bath on the first floor and there is no possibility of adding one, you should probably consider finding another home for the last part of your retirement.

Yes77%
No20%
Option to add3%

5. Can laundry room be accessed without climbing steps?

Most of the people taking the quiz will be able to do their laundry even if they have trouble negotiating stairs.

Yes78%
No22%

6. Are there grab bars in bath, toilet, and changing areas?

Our new grab bar!

This was the most common failing of people taking the quiz. Fortunately, it is also the easiest to fix. Slips and falls, most of them occurring in the bathroom, are a serious and avoidable health risk that could ruin your retirement.

No69%
Yes31%

7. What is the height of your toilet seats?

The ideal height for a toilet seat is 17-19″, which allows someone to sit down with ease, even from a wheelchair. Physical therapists look for damage to walls and the toilet when people “fall” onto the seat because it is too low. If you are able, practice sitting down and getting up without using your hands, this will definitely increase your muscle tone.

17″-19″60%
15″-17″24%
19+ inches16%

8. Is there sufficient room for a wheelchair to enter bathroom and approach toilet and sink?

Due to the way we phrased this question, it is unclear if people thought we were asking what the situation is in their bathroom, or if we wanted to know what the ideal clearance is. Either way, it looks like some education is needed. According to the ADA, a clear circle of at least 60 inches around the side wall and 56 inches from the rear wall is required to allow a wheelchair to turn.

Turning space of a minimum of at least 48” in diameter78%
Turning space of a minimum of at least 60” in diameter22%

9. How much vertical clearance to enter shower?
Only about one fourth of quiz takers have the ability to roll into their shower and thus avoid a big step into it. This problem, which can make it near impossible to shower or increase the risk of a fall, can be corrected, although at some expense.

2″ to 17″53%
o to 1″26%
18″ to 24″22%

10.What type of light switches do you have?

Although this is not a big issue, wide rocker switches are a lot easier to use and require less strength. This is an easy correction to make, and if you do it, make sure they are lighted.

Wide rocker switches51%
Narrow on/off tab49%

11. What is minimum height of your kitchen counters?

This question tried to ask people what heights they actually have in their kitchens. Judging from the response, most people have standard counter heights, but are not prepared for being wheelchair accessible. To be used by someone in a wheelchair, counters should be at least 32″ and not more than 34″ high. Since people vary by size, if you are redoing your kitchen the heights should be right for the people who use it. A variety of heights, or pull out shelves, are two ways to be prepared.

36″78%
32″ to 34″22%

12. What is ideal kitchen storage location range for accessibility?

The majority of people did not get this question right. The narrower range allows people with mobility issues and/or confined to a wheelchair easy access to the stuff they need in the kitchen. Keeping dishes and supplies lower (but not too low) makes life a lot easier.

Storage located from about 15 to 48 inches is considered optimal for accessible kitchen designs.56%
Storage located from about 20 to 44 inches is considered optimal for accessible kitchen designs.44%

13. Which of these important task areas have strong lighting in place for baby boomer aged eyes?

Most people think that the lighting for their major task areas is up to snuff, which is good. It is usually not hard to correct those that might fall short.

All of the above78%
Kitchen prep9%
Bath8%
Reading or hobbies4%
Entry and steps1%

Bottom line

The majority of quiz takers seem to live in homes where they can age in place easily. While it appears very few have a perfect situation, the majority are OK on the big and hardest to correct issues – first floor masters and first floor level changes. Most other deficiencies can be remedied fairly easily.

Comments:
It’s not too late to take the “How Ready Is Your Home for Retirement Quiz. See also our article on this Topic – Preparing Your Home for the Next 25 Years. Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

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