How to Build a Friendly Home for the Elderly

It is smart to build our home with the future in mind. There are few ideas that we can follow that will help us build a home that people 50 and above will find comfortable to live in without sacrificing style.

elderly homeowner

It is smart to build our home with the future in mind. There are few ideas that we can follow that will help us build a home that people 50 and above will find comfortable to live in without sacrificing style.

Aging in place may be the last thing on your mind when you’re renovating a home, especially if you’re under 50. But not factoring that into our design could be a costly mistake in years to come. We are not talking about wheelchair ramps or shower grab bars, but “universal design” elements, eye-pleasing choices that make your house more livable for anyone at any age.

By using universal design, homeowners are better able to remain in their homes as they age. These design elements can also make a big difference if you lose mobility.

1. Curbless Showers

curbless shower

 

A bathroom floor that continues straight into a walk-in shower without anything to step over is best practice in this regard.

If possible, make the shower space at least 3×5 feet, so a bench can be added later as needed. And include a handheld shower faucet. For no added cost, you can opt for slip-resistant textured floor tiles, or smallish mosaics, which yield numerous grout lines, to avoid a floor that gets slippery when wet. Use flat tiles, not those with rounded edges, for a smoother walking surface.

2. Upstairs Laundry

upstairs laundry

Don’t even think of remodeling the master bathroom without bringing the laundry up from the basement, if it’s down there. And if you intend to use a closet for the appliances, make sure the door is wide enough to provide access, Mackmiller says. But as much as you probably hate climbing the stairs with laundry now, imagine the process in 10 or 20 years.

3. Widened Doorways

Most shared living-space renovations include removing walls between rooms to open up the floor plan. But even when the walls can’t come down, widening doorways to at least 32 inches – preferably 36 – can increase flow and livability.

4. Kitchen Flexibility

If you’re remodeling your kitchen, expand the pathways around the island to at least 48 inches wide instead of the standard 36, which is enough to accommodate party guests, as well as someone using a walker or wheelchair. Where space is limited, this can be best accomplished with a peninsula instead of an island, Ponce says.

Include varied-height work surfaces in addition to the standard 36-inch counter height. Bar-height (42 inches) is ergonomic for standing while working, and table-height (30 inches) is better for sitting while working.

5. Doors and Lighting

lever style doorknobs

Lever-style doorknobs are easier to use in old age. And by setting new electrical outlets 24 inches off the floor instead of the usual 12 to 18, you eliminate the stooping usually required to plug in a vacuum.

Brighten up your home by adding recessed ceiling fixtures. Put them on rocker-style switches, which are easier to use; with a dimmer capacity, you can adjust lighting for different tasks.

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The article was adapted from Consumer Reports

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