Aging is something that we all like to put off thinking about, but preparing for later years doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult. When preparing your house for your golden years, simple planning and feature modifications can go a long way to ensuring that you’ll continue to maximize the usability and joy of your home.
Ask yourself a couple of simple questions:
- Can you get into your home easily? How about when your hands are full of groceries?
- Can you move about your home on a daily basis without going up or down steps?
If the answers to these questions are no, then it is a good time to implement changes into your current home. Looking ahead, if you see yourself answering no to these questions, then now is a good time to plan, and possibly implement, changes to your home.
When building or redesigning a home with aging in mind, factors to consider revolve around how to maximize ease of movement. Making sure that rooms are well laid out to minimize walking distances, while allowing sufficient space to move between fixtures and furnishings is where great design and forethought is essential. Can you get between the kitchen, living room and bedroom easily? If not, there are a number of ways you can fix this. Options include retro-fitting ramps and grab rails, or installing a personal stair lift or elevator, so that moving around can be both easier and safer.
Depending on your home, you may need to re-invent your home. Moving a bedroom downstairs and expanding or installing a bathroom en-suite can allow you to keep the majority of your living on a single floor, while leaving other rooms in the house to share with your guests. Installing continuous flooring without rugs and thinner carpet, decreases the chances of tripping, and also makes moving with a walker much more practical. Even details including wider door widths and adjustments to door handles and knobs can accommodate lifestyle changes for later years.
The kitchen is also an area ripe with possibilities for design changes. Achieving a good work surface height and kitchen layout will allow you to enjoy cooking during your post-retirement years. Also a good design for storage space, which includes minimizing high and low cupboard space, as well as installing easy to use and safer appliances, is a major part of staying active and self-sufficient as you get older.
It is equally important to consider other alternatives. Downsizing your home could be the best option for your personal needs. Do you still need a large family home? By building or moving to a new home, you could save money by cutting down the work needed for cleaning and maintenance.