Stay in your home longer by making these home modifications to age in place
Love it? Don’t Leave it!!
Does your home feel as though it’s conspiring against you as you age. All those steps make your knees ache, you have to risk life and limb to reach the top shelves in your cabinets, and there’s always something—whether it’s a scatter rug (even the name sounds dodgy) or a slippery tile floor—there to trip you up!
Remember when you “baby proofed” for your kids? Well, if you want to stay in your home you love, it’s time you “mature proofed” it (also known as Universal Design).
No climbing to cook
Most traditional cabinets have shelves that even the tallest person can’t reach. Rather than risk a tumble off a step ladder, bring everything you need down to lower cabinets and use other storage methods such as rolling carts or pegboards to keep the stuff that just won’t fit handy. There are also other gadgets such as “pull-down shelves” that fit in upper cabinets and even height-adjustable motorized cabinets you can use to bring your kitchen tools right to you. And remember that D-shaped handles are easier and less painful for arthritic to pull than round knobs.
Use the facilities safely
A 17” toilet high puts less strain on your legs, knees and back. But if you’re not ready to spring for a new commode, a plumber can raise your existing one on a platform or you can even buy a seat that elevates the toilet for easier up and down. Grab bars are also a great addition both around the toilet and in the shower to keep you on your feet. Also make sure that floors, tubs and showers have nonskid mats or strips—even better, get off your feet altogether with a seat or built-in bench in your shower. Plus, shower stalls should be low or no-threshold for ultimate safety.
Stay on flat ground
While a single-floor home is best, a master suite downstairs will keep all your activity on the main level (save the upstairs bedrooms for the kids when they visit). It’s also important to have at least one no-step entrance to your home, allowing you easier entrance everyday but especially if you have to use crutches, a walker or a wheelchair one day.
Around the house
Other additions you’ll appreciate as you get older include side-by-side refrigerator/freezers and raised front-loading washer/dryers and dishwashers (less bending), task lighting (good for aging eyes) and space for a seat near dryers and dishwashers and under countertops—anywhere you’re working and would like to get off your feet. Keeping a couple of “grabbers” (a claw-type tool on a long arm) around the house keeps you from bending over to pick up everything from dirty socks to dog poo.
Have you retrofitted your house to age in place? Share your tips in the comments below.