As we get older, our needs in a home change. For many, aging in one’s own home is ideal, but many homes are not set up to provide the best layout or features for aging in place. With aging in place becoming more and more popular throughout North America, having a home that provides the features needed to stay in one’s home is a great option for those wanting to stay in their current residence or are looking to find one that does. Below are desirable features to consider when looking for a more accessible home.
When searching for a home that supports easier access, there are a number of general features to look for. An open floor plan is going to make getting around the home much easier than one that is cramped or has a lot of walls. An open floor plan not only benefits everyone, but those individuals that need the assistance of a wheelchair, walker, stability device or have difficulties seeing will have a much easier time navigating from room to room. No-step entries are highly suggested, which include homes that do not have front steps, homes that have a ramp, and homes that do not have a step between a garage and the house. Another thing to look for are wide doorways and hallways – at least 36 inches – as these will accommodate a wheelchair or stability device and reduce the risk of tripping. Another important feature for aging in place is the use of new lighting systems, specifically LED fixtures. The use of LEDs reduces the amount of times lightbulbs need to be replaced, and good lighting aids in proper depth perception especially for those with vision troubles.
An Accessible Kitchen
The kitchen is one of the most used rooms in a house, and for those wanting to age in place, a kitchen needs to be accessible. While many items in a kitchen can be changed, kitchens need to be easy to use and the layout should be fluid. There are things to look for: a kitchen with the sink close to the stove is a must; cabinets with large drawers are easier to access than traditional styles, and it’s important to look for a home that has a pull-out pantry and a good number of floor cabinets. Counter space is important, especially for having small appliances like a microwave or coffee maker accessible at all times.
A Usable Bathroom
Bathrooms are prone to causing accidents for people of all ages and abilities. When it comes to bathrooms, accessibility is key for those aging in place. When looking at homes, look for bathrooms that have enough room to maneuver within them. A walk-in shower/tub will be much easier to get in and out of than a traditional version, and showers with a seat will help make bathing easier. As a minimum, tubs and showers should be equipped with secure grab bars. Bathrooms are easy to customize, so if a home you’re looking at is not set up correctly, there are ways to make a bathroom accessible without needing to do a full renovation.
Bedrooms, Closets and Laundry Rooms
Finding a home that supports aging in place throughout is important, and bedrooms are not something to compromise on. A bedroom on the main level of the home is a must as it makes living much easier and reduces the need to climb stairs (unless already equipped with a stairlift or elevator). A walk-in closet with ample shelving is great, but a closet with good lighting and a pull-down closet rod also works. Another important feature of the home is the laundry room: one that is close to the main bedroom, has pull-down shelving and lower upper cabinets will be much easier to access than one that is in a garage, basement or on another level of the home.
Getting older is inevitable and feeling comfortable in your home is important. If you find you’re outgrowing your home and need something more accessible, there are homes out there that will fit your needs!