As we grow older, it seems inevitable that we all become less active and less agile, and more dependent upon the help of others. We may need a hand with reaching something on the top shelf of the cupboard, or retrieving a dropped something that has rolled under the sofa. Perhaps our eyes aren’t what they used to be. Our backs have begun to ache, and our hands have grown tired. Suddenly we find ourselves moving a little slower than just a few years ago, and getting up and down is just not as easy as it used to be. But that’s life, and aging is part of it. It can be difficult in many ways, but there are things we can do to make it easier on ourselves—like preparing our homes for a new lifestyle.
Although aging is an inevitable process, it is not inevitable that you will one day be forced out of your home just because you can no longer bend and reach like you could in your 20’s. In fact, with a few simple structural modifications and design innovations, the home you’ve enjoyed for years can become just as user-friendly as it was when you carried your first piece of furniture inside. Consider the following:
Making things easier to reach:
• Raise electrical outlets and phone jacks to 18 inches above the floor.
• Lower light switches and thermostats to 42 inches from the floor.
• Situate the bathroom medicine cabinet to the side of the vanity, instead of above the sink.
• These are relatively minor adjustments that can make everyday living much more practical when bending over becomes difficult and climbing on a step ladder becomes impossible. These simple changes also make life easier if a walker or wheelchair should ever become necessary.
Making getting around the house easier:
• Expand door widths to 36 inches.
• If necessary, install a chair lift or elevator to provide access to other levels of the house.
• We never know what kind of shape we’ll find ourselves in at 80. For many of us, our major organs will be just fine, only our hips will have seen their better days. That’s why it’s important to prepare for increased mobility concerns, as your basic ability to get around your home may be what determines whether or not you are able to stay there.
Making things easier to use:
• Replace standard door knobs with levers, which are easier to maneuver.
• Replace double-hung and slider windows with crank-style casement windows.
• Install textured grab bars and railings near the toilet and in the bath/shower.
• Install single-lever faucets with balled tips. These allow temperature to be controlled by easily moving one lever.
• Make work areas easily distinguishable with contrasting colors, especially in the kitchen.
• Install kitchen cabinets with roll-out drawers and easy-to-grip “C” or “D” handles.
• It may be hard to imagine having trouble turning a door knob or shutting off the faucet (and perhaps easier to imagine needing a hand getting out of the tub). But it’s a fact of life and a product of time that our joints become stubborn and stiff and our eyes begin to fail us. These are just a few ways you can help tasks that are simple now remain simple thirty years from now.
Finally, don’t overlook the world that remote control has introduced. Everything from television and radio to touch-controlled lighting and the microwave oven uses remote control to bring everyday pleasures to anyone’s fingertips. Even better is the new world that technology has created with the advent of voice activated gadgets, and that is only the beginning! Want more information on how to prepare your home for the later stages of your life? Give us a call today.