Are you planning to stay in your home for another decade or more? Will you spend your retirement years in the same house where you currently live? If you said yes to either of those questions, it's time to give serious thought to making your living space safer. The good news is that you don't need to add extra rooms or turn your life upside down to make it happen. What are homeowners doing to create the right kind of space for aging in place? Here are five ideas that are currently among the most popular choices for people who live in houses of all sizes, ages, and styles.
Use a Mobile Kitchen Island
There are two key things you can do to make kitchens age proof, and they're both shockingly simple. First, create a space where you can do all your meal prep chores while you're seated. This is a smart move for adults of any age but especially for seniors, who often have medical limitations that make long-term standing a no go. After that, purchase or build a mobile table that can serve as a rolling island within the kitchen. These handy surfaces can double as storage units, meal prep tables, and even ad-hoc dining areas.
Get an In-Home Elevator
In-home elevators used to be a rarity but are becoming more common as included features in new homes and as add-ons in older ones. For example, residential elevators by Canadian firm Stiltz are one way to make aging in place not only a safe but a value adding idea. That's because any home that has its own elevator is both senior-friendly and worth more to potential buyers. And the big bonus is the look. Private elevators enhance any space they occupy, lending a touch of class and elegance to an ordinary living area, bedroom, or family room. For people who want to spend many years in homes they have come to love and enjoy, an elevator is a key part of the solution.
Install Indirect Lighting
The whole idea behind indirect lighting is fall prevention. Direct light is bothersome and impractical for older folks, so consider using all LED lights and getting rid of any direct beams near stairways, walk-in closets, hallways, and bathrooms. It's also a good idea to use rocker panel switches to control lights, rather than traditional flip switches, also known as toggle switches.
Say Goodbye to Doorknobs
Another quick, inexpensive, no carpentry skills needed way to make a house senior friendly is to get rid of all the doorknobs and replace each one with handles. For older folks with even slight cases of arthritis, handled doors are much easier to open and close than doors with traditional knobs. Another bonus with this transition is that anyone with a cane can usually open a door handle. That solution never works with knobs.
Raise Those Electrical Outlets
You will need an electrician for this fix, but it's worth the price. Identify the electrical outlets you use most and have them raised to a height of about two feet off the floor. That way, you won't need to bend or twist your body just to plug in an appliance or device.