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4 Affordable Ways to Alter your Property for the Elderly

By Donna Jones

Not many people are aware that when they’re trying to fill their rental property, they could be missing out on a large demographic. Many elderly people look for rental properties before moving into rest homes (if they do at all), and there are a number of reasons for this – they may be downsizing, want a place that is easy to take care of while still feeling like home, or a desire to move closer to friends, family or health services. The best thing you can do to attract the elderly demographic is to make your property accessible and suitable for them to live in, especially if they have trouble with mobility, illness or disability.

Here are some four quick and easy ways to alter your property to accommodate the elderly and expand your potential target market!

1.      Hallways and living rooms

Make living spaces open and manoeuvrable, this will accommodate tenants that are in wheelchairs or have walkers. If there are rugs or mats on the floor, use non slip solutions to keep mats from sliding and folding at the corners. Consider investing in motion sensor type lights to line hallways for visibility in the dark, or install light switches at either end.

2.      Bathrooms

A waterproof seat or stool for showers and baths does wonders, and the same goes for grab bars and non-slip mats. Expand this to the toilet itself, some elderly have issues getting up and down from the bowl so add grab bars or even a toilet seat that has handles.

If the water temperature is hotter than 50 degrees Celsius (most New Zealand homes have dangerously hot water), then a temperature controller or monitor is a safe option. Look at taps and see how easily they can be twisted or operated – they may need to be replaced for easier turning options.

3.      Heating

Elderly people can be more susceptible to the cold, and need extra warmth when the weather turns cold. Review your home’s heating and insulation. If it doesn’t have any, insulation at the least will be a necessary fixture – and this will entice any tenant! (and will be a legal requirement by 2019!). Other heating options such as central heating, wood or gas fires, heat pumps and electric heaters are available on the market, and it’s up to you to decide which is best and most cost effective for your property.

It is important to balance cost effectiveness with ease of use, for example, a wood burner relies on someone gathering the wood and stoking the fire periodically – a gas turn on/off option is potentially better suited.

Check out our past blog on heating and ventilation for more information and ideas.

4.      Outside

Clear garden paths and driveways of debris and level any uneven surfaces. Trip hazards can be significant with elderly residents and falls can be catastrophic in terms of injury, confidence and future mobility.

Adding a ramp or easier house access will also be a big help for those who have trouble with stairs. Remember that a small step to you can be unsurmountable to an elderly person with limited mobility.

Ensure the garden is filled with low-maintenance flowers, trees and shrubbery, or clear it all for the tenants to design and grow for themselves.

With an elderly tenant, more often or not you are guaranteed a great tenant – one that is mature, isn’t likely to throw parties and cause detriment to your investment. Altering a home for the elderly is a great investment, and great for future planning – your tenants may stay longer knowing they can grow older in a safe and comfortable environment. Have you converted a property or planning on it? We’d love to hear about it.

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