Every year you purchase products that make your life easier in the kitchen an electric jar opener, food chopper or can opener. What about investing in products that will make living in your entire home easier for many years into the future?

According to a study by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), an overwhelming percentage of Americans aged 45 and older more than 83 percent want to stay in their current homes long after they retire. But, that doesn't mean that the home they purchased in their thirties will still be suitable when its occupants reach their fifties, sixties or seventies.

“People's physical needs and capabilities change as they get older, and they have to take steps to make sure their house changes with them,” says Don Zeman, host of the home improvement radio show, Homefront with Don Zeman. “As an example, the Double Hung windows someone had no trouble opening when they were 35 will become physically challenging on their back, arms and shoulders as they get older.

“What can you do? Help your home grow older with you by investing in some renovation changes. Along with making your life easier, these changes will add resale value to your house and give you a renewed joy of living in your home.”

A contractor and builder for 25 years before starting his nationally syndicated radio show, Zeman knows the best ways to update a home using both common sense and universal design ideas. “Research shows that more than 100 million people the Baby Boomers will be 50 years or older by 2010,” says Zeman.


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“Now is the time to plan for your future. Think of it as both you and your house aging together. You both can benefit from changes that will make life easier in the future.”

According to Zeman, there are 10 extremely positive home improvement projects that can make life in your current home more enjoyable as the years go by, and pay big dividends when selling the home in the future.

Project #1 Replace Double Hung and Single Hung windows with Casement style windows. Opening traditional windows requires pushing up on a sash and lifting, which can strain the back and other muscles. The easy crank-out operation of a Casement window requires just a turn of a lever. Some companies, such as Simonton Windows, even offer their windows in low-maintenance vinyl frames to reduce upkeep. Another benefit is that Casement windows allow more airflow into the home than any other style window.

Project #2 Add sturdy handrails anywhere you have stairs. Whether it's outside the home, going down to the basement or even if there are a few steps in a split level house, screwing in handrails securely to wall studs provides support for everyone in the home.

Project #3 Switch to a no-threshold shower. A walk-in shower eliminates the potential for tripping over a tub or small ledge. Sturdy acrylic block radius shower walls, which are available from Hy-Lite Products, provide support and privacy. The obscure blocks allow light in the shower but prevent people from seeing inside. Also make sure to add grab bars, an anti-scald shower device and non-slip surface to the shower.

Project #4 Replace your clothes washer and dryer with front-loading units. When the time comes to get new utilities, front-load units are easier to load and unload than top-load units that require you to stretch and bend down into them.

Project #5 Install grab bars near toilets. To help easily raise and lower yourself in the bathroom, use grab bars placed on either side of the commode to take stress off your back and legs.

Project #6 Replace exterior wood trim, shutters and louvers with low-maintenance urethane products. Enjoy life and forget about the hassles of scraping, fixing and repainting rotted wood pieces each year. Urethane products, like those from Fypon, resist rot, termites, humidity and all insects. Once you install them, they stay maintenance-free year-after-year.

Project #7 Add a phone in the master bathroom. Unfortunately, many slips and falls occur in the bathroom, so it makes sense to be able to call for help from there. If you use a basement regularly, it's also a good idea to have a phone there in case of emergencies.

Project #8 Swap out hard-to-reach windows for fixed windows. Rather than deal with the maintenance issues of operable windows in hard-to-reach places like above a bathtub or at the top of a hallway, replace them with a non-functioning picture window or an acrylic block window that offers privacy. Both windows, especially if you select vinyl frames, allow in light but require no upkeep.

Project #9 Reduce steps and thresholds. Want to keep from tripping in the house? Then make sure thresholds are flush with the floor, and replace steps to the garage and other areas with easy-access ramps. Make sure to add non-slip coating to the ramps.

Project #10 Replace an aging porch system with carefree vinyl, PVC or urethane. These new building products, like those offered by Dixie-Pacific, are structural and beautiful, yet they require almost no upkeep at all. No matter what Mother Nature throws at them, top-quality vinyl, urethane and PVC products laugh in her face giving you more time to enjoy life.

For more tips and ideas on making your home more comfortable, along with information on products discussed here, visit www.homefront.com.