You love your house and you want to live in it through your retirement. With intelligent design features, you can make your home safe and comfortable for you to age in place.
With the right information and professionals, you can create a beautiful yet functional space for your golden years. Do not assume you will have to relocate just because you reach a certain age.
Assisted living facilities and other forms of long-term care centers are usually far more expensive than living at home and getting a little help with tasks like the yard work and house cleaning. Of course, if you have significant medical needs, aging in place might not be an appropriate option for you. You and your doctor should talk about your needs and options.
Whether to Do New Construction or Retrofit Your Existing Home
If you have a much larger house than you need and your children have now grown up and moved away, you might save yourself a lot of money by selling that home and having a house built that incorporates all the features you want for aging in place. You should only have the square footage you need on a daily basis for your golden years home to be cost-effective and something you can maintain.
It can be hard for people to let go of hosting the family get-togethers, but one reaches a point at which the next generation should take on this responsibility. Having square footage that goes unused most of the year will put a drain on your future budget. When you downsize the square footage, you should only keep the furniture you will need in the new space. Trying to cram too much stuff into a smaller space will make your home crowded and take away the beauty and function.
Whether you are having a new, smaller house built or retrofitting your existing home, you should discuss these essential features with your contractor:
- Entries should not have steps. Multiple levels will be hard to navigate if you become less mobile and steps are a tripping hazard.
- Stairs can be dangerous, especially if you use a cane or walker or if you take medications that can affect your balance. You should have a one-story house with no second floor and no basement.
- Your faucets and door handles should be levers, not knobs. It can be hard to grip and turn knobs, particularly with arthritis or weakness of the hands.
- All interior and exterior doorways should be at least 36 inches wide, and hallways should be 48 inches wide. You will not be able to get a wheelchair through a narrow door or hallway.
- Make sure you can reach all the power outlets and switches from both a sitting and standing height.
- Talk with your contractor about the recommended counter height for your situation.
- A lower height sink in the kitchen and bathroom can make many tasks easier and safer. A 30-inch height with open space under the sink is ideal.
- Your shower should have a no-step entry.
- Make sure that your contractor uses the Aging-in-Place Remodeling Checklist of the National Association of Home Builders.
Depending on the circumstances, it might be less expensive to sell your existing house and have a smaller one built, rather than to make extensive modifications to an older home for you to age in place.
References: HuffPost. “Designing A Home ot Age In Place, With Grace.” (accessed October 9, 2019) https://www.huffpost.com/entry/designing-a-home-to-age-in-place-with-grace_b_5791390ce4b0a86259d1029e