Remodeling? Is Your Home Ready for Those Golden Years?

Orland Park residential remodeler Glen Borkowski offers five tips for homeowners who are busy preparing for the "aging-in-place" process.

In a calculated response to Baby Boomers reaching the age of 65, Glen Borkowski said the folks at the National Association of Home Builders decided to doff their caps in tribute by a launching a new training program for residential remodelers across America.


Borkowski, president of DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen in Orland Park, is a recent graduate of the Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist program (CAPS). One of his niche jobs involves modifying bathrooms for homeowners looking to stay put in their Golden Years.

He offers these suggestions to seniors looking to avoid making an unwanted trip to the nursing home:

1. Get rid of your bathtub.

“Eighty percent of all home accidents occur in the bathroom,” Borkowski said. “If you slip and fall, is there anywhere soft to land in a bathroom? No. Do you use the tub? Would it make sense to put in a large, walk-in shower?”

2. Install support bars and grab bars in the bathroom. Don’t fall victim to denial. You need those bars. Many new models are both stylish and functional.

“Many people have seen only the old, clunky stainless steel products,” Borkowski said. “They don’t want something that comes with a stigma attached to it—my house looks like a nursing home. That’s where the industry has come a long way in the last 10 years. If you can show them products that are practical and more attractive, now you’ve got something.”

3. Go with comfort-height toilets. Ease your pain. Are you knees weak? Does your back ache?

Typically, these toilets are raised 2-3 inches above old, standard models, Borkowski said. A little adjustment can make a big difference.

“They’re easier getting on and off and easier on your back,” he said.

4. Raise the height of vanity. You’ve heard the old saying, “Bigger is better.” Well, here raising the roof is safer and more friendly way to accommodate an aging body.

“We always recommend raising these up a couple inches,” Borkowski said. “Again, it just makes sense. You don’t have to bend as much or strain yourself just to brush your teeth.”

5. Lighting. The word here: You can’t see the light until you add a light (bulb).

“This is a big deal,” Borkowski said. “Every decade we age, starting at about 40, we need twice as much light to see the same things effectively. We put in lots of layers of lighting.”

Colleen McAbee April 18, 2012 at 11:30 AM
Have thought about it because my family has no use for one anymore. My kids are in their late teens and mid-twenties. I hesitate however, to have it yanked out for resale reasons. For instance, if a prospective homebuyer has toddlers, a tub is needed. Little ones don't do showers.
Ron Kremer April 18, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Collen: Good point on the resale issue. The decision of whether to pull the tub largely depends on whether you plan to stay in your home for some time. That's one of Glen Borkowski's first questions when he interviews clients about a remodeling job.
Henry Tuenge April 19, 2012 at 12:05 AM
Wow, what a great article. I recently thought about remodeling and adding one of those walk in tubs, Mr. Borkowski's talent and knowledge saved us a bundle and make a much safer environment!
Phil Davis April 19, 2012 at 01:58 AM
Another consideration is that sometimes in order to stay in your home, the choice to replace the tub with a shower simply must be done. Regarding resale: Maybe another person needing a shower will be the best buyer? http://www.handymanmatters.com/wichita/best-bath/


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