A home should accommodate the needs of the people who live in it. As you approach a new stage in life, you ought to plan on making changes to your homes to assist you as your life and lifestyle changes with age. There’s a multitude of augmentations that can be made, depending on how the body changes in the coming years. These changes to your household can be simple, or they can be more elaborate.
The Simple Changes
Here’s a breakdown of simple changes, easily accomplished, making small alterations to parts of the house. Regardless of your health, everything here eases or prevents exertion and/or injury. Chances are you won’t need most of these for years, but it’s better to get them sooner and let them become a part of your home rather than merely attachments.
Levers Instead of Knobs
For the young and able-bodied, turning a doorknob doesn’t tend to be that taxing. However, as arthritis sets in, even the simplest actions become a chore. Opening doors should be the least of your problem in the home. Thankfully, changing out any knobs in the home for lever door handles solves this problem. Sinks, showers, doors, the works; pushing is easier than turning in any circumstance.
Improve House Lighting
Lighting plays an extremely important role for older eyes. With age comes poorer eyesight, so careful attention needs to be paid to how your home is lit. The first step should be brightening your home through natural and LED lighting. Natural lighting, while providing a brightening up a room, also tends to be easier on the eyes than artificial lighting. Make sure windows and glass doors are clean and unshuttered during the day, and that natural light comes in from as many directions as possible. You might even consider doing a little bit of remodeling to add in new windows around the house.
Natural light can’t reach everywhere. To help reduce shadows, focus on light uniformity in your rooms, using lamps and overhead lighting with higher wattage. If possible, change the décor of the home and have primarily light colored surfaces to help wash out the dark spots of the house. Brighter lighting makes it easier as your eye sight changes to see properly, so try to minimize shadows.
Finally, install nightlights in the hallways, bathrooms, and stairways. Night can be challenging even for younger people to navigate in darkness. Nightlights placed strategically and frequently improve visibility, making a trip to the bathroom in the middle of the night much less of a worry.
Flat Panel Light Switches
Flat panel light switches are easier to handle than the common toggle switch. It’s also a good idea to find a flat panel that also acts as a dimmer, allowing you to control how much lighting you want at any time. The more control you have over your environment, the safer you will be.
Rugs and Carpets
Rugs are a problem if they’re not properly dealt with. On hardwood, they slip. On carpets, they bunch up and become a tripping hazard. The safest course regarding rugs is to simply not have them at all, but if you really want that gorgeous rug in the living room then precautions can be taken. Firstly, the cheapest option is to tape rugs to the floor. They won’t slip or bunch up if properly secured. Secondly, putting non-slip rubber mats underneath rugs will prevent them from sliding and bunching.
Carpets should be checked to make sure there are no tripping hazards on them. They’re generally fairly safe, but if you happen to be wheelchair dependent, it may be better to replace the carpets with something easier to move around on. If you still want carpets, just be sure there’s nothing to snag your wheels on and try to stay with low pile fabrics.
Putting non-slip flooring around the house is a great, non-obstructive way to make maneuverability safer. Examples of non-slip flooring are cork, certain linoleum and vinyl and rubber flooring. Putting the non-slip flooring on stairs, kitchens, bathrooms and anywhere where the floor may be at risk of extra slippage or fall prone is recommended.
Railings and Grip Bars
Climbing stairs is hard. Having a railing for the stairwell mitigates the stress stair climbing takes on the body, and provides a safe grip in case you take a wrong step. The same principle can be applied to the bathroom, to ensure you can get in and out of the bathtub or shower without slipping.
You will also find that your energy levels will progressively decrease as the years come, so railings and grip bars will increase your mobility and make getting around the house less exhausting.
Mailboxes generally aren’t an issue for homes, but if you or a significant other is confined to a wheelchair getting the mail becomes a little more inconvenient. Simply lowering the mailbox provides easy access in this instance.
Flat Entry Level
Many homes have stairs leading to their front door. Most are unnecessary and create a tripping hazard, as well as being inaccessible to the disabled. Having a flat entry level for the home facilitates accessibility for all seniors, no steps required.
Having the ability to have full control of the house without moving from the sofa can be of great comfort. Installing household appliances, such as air conditioning, the garage door, lights, television, locks, etc., with a universal remote affords that control. The remote used can be a smartphone, or, if you prefers something more familiar, a physical master remote specifically for the home.
The Elaborate Changes
Your current home may not be senior friendly and the simple changes may not be what is necessary to improve the quality of life in your home. Therefore, the case can be made for more elaborate changes which will augment the home on a different level and provide for more of the safety and comforts you’re looking for.
Remodeling Ground Floor into a Master Suite
You’ve made a home out of your house, putting years of memories and love into it, so you want to stay in it as long as possible. However, if you have a multi-storied house, then you run into a problem: stairs. Usually your bedroom will be on the next floor up. The best option to deal with this is to consider remodeling the ground floor and create a master suite if its not already a feature. Not only that, but this manner of remodeling offers a great return rate on usage and value.
The greatest benefit to a ground floor master suite is removing the need to travel upstairs every night to sleep, minimizing exertion or risk of falling. And as a master suite requires multiple rooms connected to the master bedroom, access to the bathroom, closet, and dressing area provides a new ease of living. The level of convenience this sort of remodel will afford you is worth its weight in gold for the years to come.
Widen Doorways, Hallways, and Spaces
With a bit of remodeling, you can widen the hallways and doorways to provide enough room to maneuver in. This is primarily so people using wheelchairs or walkers have an easier time turning corners, entering rooms, and not bumping into things as you move around. You should also ensure there’s enough space in the larger sections of the house for you to move around in, places like living rooms, family rooms, and bedrooms. This may be a matter of redecorating rather than remodeling, as long as you can move without obstruction.
Stair Lifts and Elevators
If you live in a multi-floor home and decide not to remodel the ground floor to include a bedroom, then installing a stair lift is the next best option to ensure your ability to ascend and descend flights of stairs safely. A stair lift offers its amenities equally to the able-bodied and the disabled, though those who are wheelchair bound may still find themselves inconvenienced once they make it to the top.
An alternative to the stair lift is installing an elevator in the home. It is more disabled inclusive than a stair lift, as those who are wheelchair bound won’t need to trade seats to change floors.
Push Button Door Openers
While more complicated than changing all door handles in the house to levers, push button door openers are the best of opening doors. Not only do they require the least amount of force to open, they’re inclusive to wheelchair bound partners who have troubles opening doors on their own. Push buttons should only be installed on choice doors rather than every entryway in the house.
Walk-in Bathtubs and Showers
As age comes, getting in and out of the bath proves a challenge. Replacing the bath with a walk-in bathtub makes the bathing process more efficient, safer, and easier, as well as being disabled accessible. Most walk-in bathtubs come installed with grip bars and non-slip floors, as well as giving you the choice of having a shower option. Customization of the walk-in bathtub is a luxury and gives you a form of control for relaxation.
There are plenty of things that can be done to remodel the kitchen to make it comfortable and accessible for you. When considering a complete kitchen remodel, the list below gives you some safety and accessibility points to include in your project.
- Replacing the kitchen counters with multi-level counters ensures that anyone in the house can use the counter comfortably and easily. The lower counter level becomes wheelchair accessible, and while the higher counter may not be as easily accessed, any guests or significant others also in the house will have a counter for their use.
- Accessibility in the kitchen in a necessity for all ages, so there needs to be mindfulness when remodeling a kitchen to prepare for the future. Lower shelves reduce strain and provide wheelchair access, and makes them more accessible for kids if you happen to have young relatives come over.
Pull-out and Pull-down Shelves and Drawers
- Consider replacing all drawers and shelves in the house with pull-out or pull-down options. These specialized drawers and shelves remove the need to grope around getting to the deeper recesses of commonly accessed spaces, while being more user-friendly in general. You may want to expand this to the entire home, as well.
Fire Prevention Systems in Kitchen
- Memory issues become more prevalent with age, and these issues become hazardous to living if, say, you forgot to turn off your stove after cooking a meal. Fire prevention systems should be installed to ensure forgetfulness doesn’t impact safety and liveliness. Installation into the household stove and oven stops them from continuing to run after they’ve stopped being used. Although replacing your current cooking amenities with a good microwave may be safer, nothing beats being able to cook your own delicious meals.
Five Pounds of Force
You shouldn’t have any difficulty accessing any part of your own home. Nothing in the house should need any more than five pounds of force to operate, as anyone with arthritis may find that too difficult to work with. This can include doors, baths, kitchen amenities, chairs and whatnot. Proof the home to ensure everything can be used comfortably.
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