Design Your Home for Aging in Place
According to the U.S. Census, senior citizens make up the country's largest population. Many of us who are 55 or older still lead active lives and are looking toward the latest design trends to help us stay in our homes for as long as possible.
Because aging in place promotes independent living, it’s also associated with better health and happiness outcomes.
According to the MetLife Mature Marketing Institute, 91 percent of pre-retirees (age 50 to 65) say they want to live in their own homes in retirement—of that group, 49 percent want to stay in their current homes, and 38 percent want to move to new homes.
Even if you’re in excellent health, it’s smart to consider aging-in-place principles when renovating or building a new custom home. Even subtle design choices can have a profound impact on how long you can comfortably live in your own home while enjoying your individual aesthetic preferences.
Soft and smooth surfaces, like cork, rubber, and linoleum, are excellent choices because they’re easier on joints and don’t pose a tripping hazard. You’ll want to avoid high-pile or excessively padded carpets. Flooring should be smooth and level. If your home has a level change, be sure to signal it with a change in material, texture, or color, but avoid strong patterns or shiny surfaces that may interfere with depth perception.
For many people, being able to prepare your own meals is a sign of independence. Some ways to help you enjoy your kitchen include:
Have a surface where you can sit to prepare meals, in order to reduce the need to stand for long periods of time.
Consider an island on wheels, so that the position could be adjusted to provide clearance for a walker or wheelchair.
Don’t install cabinets over the stove. Leaning over a hot surface can pose a hazard, particularly when balance is impaired.
Install drawers under your countertop instead of lower cabinets and consider installing D-type pulls on cabinet doors.
Being able to bathe independently can have a large impact on emotional wellbeing and sense of dignity. Some features to consider include:
If you’re building a new shower, choose a no-threshold or walk-in shower and consider incorporating a seat into the design.
If you’re renovating an existing shower, base-row wall tiles that contrast with the floor tiles can help you distinguish between wall and floor more easily.
If you have a bathtub and shower combo, a shower curtain is preferable to sliding shower doors. Shower door tracks should not be installed on the bathtub rim.
Standard towel bars are not designed to support body weight, but many manufacturers do offer grab bars specifically designed to replicate the appearance of a towel bar and aid mobility.
Thermostatic shower controls and anti-scald water devices can help protect against injury. The maximum recommended water temperature is 120 degrees.
Throughout the Home
When planning home renovations, safety and ease of use should always be taken into consideration:
Choose mechanisms that are easy to operate. For example, choose door levers over doorknobs and light switches with a rocker panel instead of toggle switches.
Mechanisms like front door locks, lighting, or thermostats that you can control with a smartphone can be easier to operate, however maintenance and malfunction risks should also be considered.
Glare and shadows can be problematic if you have issues with depth perception, so be sure to install indirect lighting. To reduce how often you’ll need to change light bulbs, install LED fixtures.
Electrical outlets should be installed 18-24 inches off the ground to reduce how far you’ll have to bend down to access them.
If you live in a multi-level home, locate the master bedroom on the ground floor, and include a bathroom on each level.
Are you considering creating a home that will keep you safe and comfortable throughout the years? Contact us today for a free consultation or call us at 614.348.1550