Preparing your home for aging in place may be the most important remodeling projects you’ll ever undertake. And the best place to start is right behind your garage door. A well-designed garage provides many benefits to older adults including convenient, ground-floor storage, a space for a workbench for gardening or other hobbies, and a safe and weather resistant entrance to the main house.
But for most, realizing those benefits requires a few updates to make the garage senior-friendly.
Make Entrances and Exits Accessible
Seniors who plan to stay in their own homes must prepare for reduced mobility and even the possibility they will need a wheelchair at some point. That means:
- Ensuring all walkways into and out of the garage are over flat surfaces: In some cases, this may require creating ramps with adequate handholds.
- Installing a state-of-the-art automatic garage door: Keep in mind that a van equipped with a wheelchair lift requires nine feet of clearance, which is more than the standard-sized garage door opening.
- Creating entryways at least 36 inches wide: This is the minimum width that can accommodate a wheelchair.
Though many of these standards are designed for wheelchairs, even if you never need one, wider entryways and flat walkways make it easier and safer to carry in packages or use other mobility devices like walkers.
Make Space Adequate
Preparing your garage for aging in place is the perfect time to clear out the junk that has accumulated over the years. To turn your cramped garage into a space you can navigate in a wheelchair or with a walker or cane, you’ll need five feet of space between your vehicle and any walls, entryways, and your garage door. You can create that space by:
- Decluttering: Donate unused items, move little-used things to off-site storage or an outside shed, or hold a yard sale.
- Redesigning your storage space: For those items you need to keep in your garage, consider having shelves or pegboards installed, where tools and the like can hang safely and out of the way.
- Putting one car in a two car garage: Many couples after retirement choose to keep only one car. Not only does this save money, but it also allows you to easily create the space you need for a senior-friendly garage.
To adjust your garage further, you may want to resituate your garage door — an ideal opportunity to invest in a new state-of-the-art automatic door.
Make Light Plentiful
Tripping over clutter or struggling with keys in a dark garage is frustrating at any age. For seniors, however, a fall can lead to serious health challenges, so a well-lit garage is a matter of safety as well as convenience. Consider taking the following steps to brighten your garage:
- Installing an automatic garage door connected to the garage lights: There are many automatic garage door models that include lights that switch on when the door is opened, then automatically switch off after a set amount of time.
- Connecting your garage door opener to the light system: Some garage door openers even allow you to switch lights on and off with the controller without opening the door.
- Fitting sensor lights at outside garage entrances: Sensor lights are a good choice for outdoor lighting that’s always available, even if you don’t remember to flip a switch or press a button.
The goal for a senior-friendly garage is to have plenty of bright lighting, inside and out, that is as automatic and easy-to-use as possible.
AA Garage Door is a family business dedicated to our customers’ satisfaction throughout their lives. As you prepare your home and garage for aging in place, we hope you’ll let us help you find the automatic garage door set-up that will best serve you throughout your golden years.