With so many different stages in life, it’s not surprising that needs change as time progresses. Lifestyles suitable for a 20-something are not quite practical for someone approaching their 50s, 60s, 70s… you get the point. Add to that, aging isn’t always graceful. There could be reduced balance, decreased mobility, injury or illness, reduced mental capabilities, decreased strength and endurance, or reduced vision and hearing just to name a few. The concept of Living in Place is to adapt the home of your choice for as long as you are able to stay.
Getting Into the House
Even the most modest homes have steps to access entryways. Designing ramps — temporary or permanent – is a must to ensure access. Whether a concrete pour, decorative wood slats, or prefabricated metal, ramps for a wheelchair allow homeowners to get in and out. If not already in place, handrails for existing stairs provide support when a ramp is not present.
Moving Around the House
Flooring is an important consideration when inside the home for ease of movement. Smooth surfaces are more desirable than carpeted areas. Special hinges can be added to most doors to increase width by two inches. Sunken rooms can be elevated and leveled to minimize steps inside the home.
Challenges in the bathroom include having sufficient room to move, a place to sit, showering and bathing, safety, and personal care. Surprisingly, the bathroom lends itself to the most opportunity for improvement with thoughtful design. Space can often be reclaimed to provide space for movement; built-in or furniture benches can be added for additional seating. Zero-entry showers provide access without barriers. Vanity counters can be designed for wheelchair roll-up access. Grab bars strategically placed for safety are now available to reflect beautiful design elements.
Kitchen islands and cabinetry offer enormous potential for keeping things in reach. Everything from drawer microwaves to hydraulic appliance shelves, a homeowner can avoid the difficulty of reaching beyond their grasp. Kitchen pullout pantries make storage accessibility a breeze. Varied heights incorporated into an island accommodate a variety of needs.
Height is a factor for all things laundry related. Front loading washer and dryer minimize bending; standing height counters aid in sorting and folding.
Lighting & Technology
When it comes to lighting, more is better. LED lights with dimmers offer flexibility and there should be multiple sources for accessing switches. Whether Siri, Alexa, Google or other creative names, technology can easily be added to assist. From emergency calls for help to cameras and television sound bars, let a virtual assistant help. The Amazon Echo creates an intercom type system in every room.