Thinking about designing a home that will suit you for many years to come? Now’s the time to consider the concept of universal design to accommodate aging in place. A variety of elements affect your ability to live comfortably at home for the foreseeable future.
Make an Easy Entrance
If you or a family member needs to use crutches, a walker or wheelchair down the line, having a level entry into your home will be beneficial. Could your new home have a no-step entry, perhaps from the garage into the house?
Once inside, consider making all doorways at least 36 inches wide for ease of maneuverability. Hallways that measure at least 48 inches wide will accommodate everyone and wider doorways and halls makes moving bulky items easy.
Look for Ranch Style
If you hope to live in your home for many years to come, consider a floor plan that puts all the essentials on the main floor. You’ll appreciate not having to go up and down stairs to do laundry or go to bed. If you prefer a multi-story house, consider creating space where you can retrofit a residential elevator shaft. You can set aside the space by stacking larger closets above one another on consecutive floors.
Kitchens and Baths
To make living in your home easy for as long as possible, plan your kitchen and baths carefully. In the kitchen, a section of lowered-height countertops or an island space where someone can sit while preparing meals is a good idea. It can even allow for kid helpers, too. Using drawers or pull-out shelves within cabinets can help avoid having to crouch down and search for items tucked away in the back of a cupboard.
For appliances, consider placing the microwave at counter height or lower. Someone using a wheelchair may find it easier to use a side-by-side refrigerator. A voice-command, foot pedal or touch faucet is simple to operate for everyone.
For bathrooms, try to look ahead and make accommodations now instead of waiting. Choose a comfort-height toilet, install plenty of overall and task lighting and go for a curbless or roll-in shower. To avoid falls, pick slip-resistant flooring and install grab bars that also function as towel holders to avoid an “institutional” look. To give yourself plenty of flexibility, choose an adjustable height showerhead with a hand-held wand.
These aging in place accommodations don’t have to be noticeable, but they will still bring you peace of mind and a feeling of increased safety.
Other Aging in Place Ideas
Universal design should address smaller details, as well. For arthritic hands, turning door knobs, using small light switches or grasping cabinet knobs can be difficult. Your future self will thank you for choosing lever-style door hardware, rocker light switches and D-shaped pulls for drawers and cabinetry. Remember that bending down may become harder with age. Talk to your builder about setting electrical wall outlets 18 to 24 inches from the floor so they are easy to reach.
Weaker eyes will appreciate plenty of overall lighting and good task lighting all over the house, but especially in working spaces like the kitchen or home office. Built-in night-lighting can make bathrooms, hallways and stairs safer.
A custom home can perfectly suit your individual needs now and in the future. The Rivers Pointe community also includes a range of housing options which makes shifting from a large family home to something more manageable like a patio home or condo easy. We’d love to discuss your new home vision. Contact us today to schedule a community tour.