Building your retirement house

Many new home builders are building a house for retirement.

I am. In fact it is the second home I am building for our golden years. We don’t have a lot of gold to do it with though. We still love the first effort but have decided to move to a location closer to family and a major center.

There is not much doubt that you will develop different needs as you age so it is only wise to incorporate some special features into a retirement house. So far we have been lucky and have not many special needs but they could certainly develop quickly. Getting old is a pain but the alternative is not so good either.

For a humorous look at aging  check out this site

It is common as we age to develop arthritis in our hands. This can make it difficult and painful to grasp and turn things such as faucets and doorknobs. Single handle faucets in the kitchen and bathrooms can be operated with you wrists or elbows. Lever door handles throughout the house add the same ease as well as taking less strength to operate.

Putting higher toilets with grab bars beside them in the bathrooms can make getting on and off the throne much easier. There is very little extra cost if done during construction. A dual flush toilet can save water if you find you have to make more frequent trips to the john.

IMG_1108Walk in or roll in showers are a godsend if you have difficulty getting in and out of the bath. They should have a seat and a sturdy hand rail. Shower doors instead of a curtain offer some extra protection against falls. Make sure the shower will reach the seat. The one piece fiberglass units are excellent for new construction and the cost is comparable to a tub with surround. Another option are walk in tubs but somewhat more pricey. You will still need a tub for those times when young grandchildren come for a visit or if you have a pet that needs an occasional scrub. Put lots of grab handles in your bathrooms, they are a common area for falls. If someone in your family may be confined to a wheel chair consider a lower vanity and mirror in an accessible bath. If there is more than one senior in your household you will need more than one bathroom. Natures call can be much more insistent as you age and you may be desperate at times. Of course if there are children in a family then two or more bathrooms will be very stress relieving as well.

Plan for doors wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair and provide at least one ramp for access to the house. Make certain all steps, ramps and decks have hand and guard rails. This is a good practice even if it does not seem likely anyone in your family will require them. Your friends are getting older too. Make sure entries are well lit. Install seats at entries for removing or putting on footwear.

If you plan for an attached garage with easy access to the house you will not have to walk from the car on icy sidewalks or driveways. It might save you a broken hip or worse. This is a good place for a ramp. A lift could also be an option.

Me in retirementThe less stair steps in your home the better.

Mobility almost always suffers after retirement and the more senior friendly your home the longer you will be able to remain in it. Consider building a home without a basement or a second story. If steps are necessary try to keep them out of the weather so they do not become slippery from ice or rain. Choose flooring that gives a better footing. If it is shiny it can probably be slippery. Add non slip finishes to steps, ramps and concrete floors if needed. Bathtubs and showers may also need attention.

It is more difficult and costly to make a kitchen handicapped friendly and in some cases it may become inconvenient for others. Decisions here would depend on you families situation.

Good lighting becomes more important as eyesight dims and deserves consideration.

Make certain that house numbers are are well lit and can be easily seen from the street so that emergency services can find you quickly.

Take a careful look at security measures. Seniors are sometimes percieved as easy prey.

Finally, build your house for as low maintenance as possible including ease of cleaning. It may not be as easy to attend to routine chores as you grow older and if you are on a fixed income hiring may not be an option. And retirement is just that. You should not put yourself in the position of having to do anything.

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