If you are not a senior now, you soon will be. Certain disabilities are almost certain with advancing age. Most of us now live long enough to eventually face some challenges. Some age related difficulties may start appearing quite early. Of course, injury or disease can cause handicaps at any age. A senior friendly home should be a consideration for your future.
The following list is in no particular order. Many of the tips or hints can be cheaply incorporated in existing houses. Others are more costly or can only be easily installed in new construction.
1) Ramps– or more specifically, no steps. Ramps are a boon to anyone with mobility issues. Almost essential for wheelchairs, they make things easier for almost anyone. Should be under cover where Ice or snow could cause slippery conditions. Inside an attached garage is ideal.
2) An attached garage.– An attached garage means you will not be exposed to slippery conditions or dangerous weather. It will also save considerable fuel by eliminating idle time for warming or cooling your car, A good place for exercise equipment. Hint– Add a television outlet for exercise time or for playoff parties.
3) Lever door handles– Much easier for arthritic hands to operate.
4) Lever or single handle faucets– Also easy for arthritic hands.
5) Under cabinet jar opener– Two hands on the jar makes thing simpler.
6) Solid surface floors– easier to navigate with walkers. Easier to keep clean than carpet. Make certain any rugs have non slip backs.
7) High rise toilets– A higher seat makes it much easier to mount or dismount your throne.
8) Two or more bathrooms– The call of nature can be quite urgent for seniors, at times. Of course this can be true for anyone when ill. An extra bathroom can save us from a lot of embarrassment and discomfort.
9) Grab handles– Needed above bathtubs, in showers and beside toilets.
10) Shoe horns– Keep long-handled shoe horns near beds, closets and exits.
11) Bases for washers and dryers– Reduce the bending when doing laundry.
12) Higher electrical outlets– Receptacles placed 24 inches or more above the floor are much more senior friendly.
13) Two and three-way light switches– Reduce the extra steps with strategically placed switches. Consider wall switches for receptacles that are likely to be used for lamps.
14) Security– Seniors can be perceived as easy victims. Install alarms or surveillance systems to discourage criminals, Have peepholes or security glass in entry doors. Install strong doors and locks. Make certain low windows ar not hidden from the street.
15) Television, telephone, and internet available in the bedroom in case you are bedridden for a time.
16) Highly visible house numbers– Help emergency people find you. Keep a card near your phones with easy directions to your house and a list of emergency phone numbers. A great help for guests or a panicky spouse.
17) A walk in shower– Eliminate the step over a tub wall. The bottoms of showers and tubs should be non-slip or have non slip mats. A shower door is a little safer than a curtain.
18) A seat in the shower– In a 4 or 5 foot shower you may need an extra shower head or a flex hose to make this practical.
19) A ventilation system– Windows can be difficult to open for old hands. A heat recovery ventilator (HRV)is best for a cold climate. In a hot climate choose an energy recovery ventilator (ERV).
20) Low maintenance everything– Make it easier and less costly to stay in your home.
Many new homes today are quite senior unfriendly. In fact they are often not that friendly for anyone. Multi levels and steep stairways are common. Style is often chosen over convenience or lower maintenance.The trend to larger houses means they are often too large to be easily cared for. To me, this is disturbing. Our population is aging rapidly and our housing should reflect that.
Your quality of life is much better, and the cost to society is much lower, if you are able to remain in your own home for as long as possible.