Design A Home for Life
Have you heard of living in place? Also known as aging in place, it’s the concept that people want to remain in their homes as long as possible, as we age and our health and lifestyle needs change. For example, in the kitchen above, a simple faucet with a pull-out nozzle will make washing up easy for people with arthritis. Here are a few more tips for setting up your forever home.
Choose Gorgeous, Right-size Furniture
A couple where the husband is 5’10” and the wife is 5’ may have some challenges in making their home comfortable for them both, without health issues in the mix. Even if you aren’t so different in size, it’s important to have furniture that’s the right scale and fit for you. Adjustable tables and chairs can be a help in this, as can designing a bathroom or kitchen with multiple counter heights.
Also, specifying or customizing furniture to fit is a great solution. We found a smaller-scale recliner for my 85 y.o. mother who is only 5’. She had been struggling with a full-size recliner for years. Now she loves reading and relaxing in her right-size chair!
Create Accessible Flows
If you or your family member need to use a cane, walker, wheelchair or other ambulatory aid, it’s especially important to open up the circulation of your rooms. Ensure there’s at least a 3 to 3.5-foot pathway leading to doors and around furniture. Remove any trip hazards like loose rugs, and try to find rugs that have a low profile and rubber backing for places you still need them. Eliminate stairs and add ramps, or choose a one-level home, if you decide to relocate.
Bring It Down to Your Level
Think about how difficult it can be to get something down from a high shelf, especially if it’s heavy or bulky. Now imagine doing that while having bursitis, arthritis, or any number of painful conditions. Consider relocating heavy items to lower shelves, or installing a special pull-down shelf like this one, allowing easy, safe access to upper shelves.
Brighten Spaces with Lighting
As we grow older, our eyes change, and we need more light to see well. I recommend installing recessed lighting that’s centered over your task areas throughout your spaces for a bright, evenly lit tone. Next, add table lamps for adjustable accent and task lighting.
One place you really need to see well is the kitchen. Recessed lights create a great foundation; then add under-cabinet lighting to illuminate your countertop workspace, making prep and cooking a delight. For soft, ambient light when task lights aren’t in use, finish off with a stylish pendant light or chandelier.
Beautify Bathroom Safety
Grab bars don’t have to be clinical-looking. There are a wide range of ADA- approved grab bars that are both beautiful and safe. You can use them as additional towel rails to conceal their purpose.
Ideally, you want a curbless, step-in shower, like this one I designed for a couple in St Francis Woods, San Francisco. Curbless showers are highly desirable even for those who don’t medically require them, creating a beautiful, flowing look for your bathroom. Selecting a gorgeous, handmade ceramic tile like the one above will also elevate your space.
These are just a few ways to make your home a place you can remain for as long as you wish, with independence and freedom, into your golden years.
For more ideas on how to create YOUR forever home, contact Kimball Starr for a consultation today!