Aging in Place
My Mother always says that “aging is not for sissies!” If you plan right and right now – it can be easier.
Your home is usually your biggest investment so you’ll want to be sure you add value during renovations and plan for Aging in Place.
When you consider that 10,000 Boomers reach Social security age every day, and that by 2050, 1 in 5 adults Americans will be 65 and over- – it pays to renovate with Aging in Place in mind.
Here are some interesting and useful ideas to consider when planning your project:
1. Start by selecting “livable communities” –age friendly cities that allow for “encore careers”, comfortable connections, safety, independent living and also strive for dignity in aging!
2. In your timetable – remember that it’s easier to do the renovations sooner than later. It”ll be much easier to do this work in your 50’s – 60’s than in your 70’s and 80’s. If you are already there – be assured that there are many dependable and creative contractors to help you get your projects completed quickly.
3. Starting on the exterior – watch out for entries with a clear, level path to the house with automatic sensor lighting, 36″ wide doors, non-slip foyer flooring and easy to maintain vinyl siding or brick. A recent survey found that 57% of the respondents said they’d move to get easier maintenance.
4. Single level living will make life much easier along with low thresholds. (as we age, we need a lot more light to complete a task. In fact, we need 3 times the light when we reach 70 than when we were 20!) By designing color contrasts between levels on the floor and counters – we can avoid accidents and spills. Main floor bedrooms are gaining popularity – with guest bedrooms and flex space on the upper floors.
5. Include multi use rooms so your home is “visitable” by Family and friends. With flexible spaces, you can accommodate Family or live in help if you need it.
6. Kitchens have several challenges that can be solved with planning more drawers, multilevel countertops and pull down shelves. Consider moving appliances up to a more comfortable level without bending and fewer upper cabinets with unreachable shelves. Add in self-regulating ventilation and lighting too.
7. In bathrooms, we now have great options for comfort height toilets that have heated and self-closing features plus showers and tubs without step ins. Look for faucets with levers or even a pedal control. (the kids will love those!) As you reno the shower, add in extra bracing behind the tile for future grab bars. Choose ones that do double duty as towel bars.
8. In general, flooring that is softer will be more comfortable. Consider luxury vinyl, the ever popular wood or eco friendly cork instead of tile and stone. Pick patterned, stylish low pile carpet too.
9. Here’s a great idea – add a place to put packages or your purse down when you’re opening the front or garage door. That way you won’t be struggling to hang onto things and get the door wide open.
10. Remember the little things, like a convenient location for changing HVAC air filters; peephole in the front door for security; bright light bulbs everywhere; easy to operate window hardware (we all love fresh air) ; handrails on ramps; easy to read appliance controls ( I had to get a flash light for my Dad the other day so he could read the stove); front loading washers; shower seats and built –in pet feeding stations to keep it out from under foot.
I have an awesome Aging in Place Remodeling Checklist from the Nation Assn. of Home Builders – check it out! http://www.nahb.org/generic.aspx?genericContentID=89801&fromGSA=1&print=true It’ll get you thinking in the right direction.
There are so many wonderful materials and ideas to make living comfortably in your Family home for a lifetime. They don’t all have to be really obvious at first but with pre-planning can make the transition so much smoother when they are needed. To help with your upcoming decorating projects – get my “10 Easy Steps to DIY Decorate like a Pro” booklet. We Boomers not only want a beautiful home, but also now want to build in valuable increased energy efficiency, convenience, resale valuable and comfort plus a few luxuries like state of the art media and appliances.
My fondest wish for you is to enjoy your home as you Age in Place!