Currently, more Baby Boomers are retiring every day. The Boomers are one of the most active and independent generations in history and a growing trend today is the move toward aging-in-place.
Aging-in-place means that an older person is making the conscious decision to safely and comfortably stay in their home for as long as they can. For many homeowners, this may mean renovating or remodeling the property to facilitate the changes that come with aging, including vision, mobility, and physical constraints.
Creating a home that is safe and functional as you age can be made easier by working with an interior designer who understands and adheres to the principals and techniques for creating an aging-in-place environment.
General Design Principals
There are many changes you can make throughout the home to accommodate homeowners as they age. In terms of general design principals, here’s a list of basic rules to follow when redesigning your home for safety and accessibility. These rules apply for every room including the common spaces.
- Open Floor Plan: an open floor plan can make moving around the living space easier for those who may have mobility issues
- Updated Lighting Systems: Brighter lighting can aid those with sight issues
- Larger Windows: Larger windows allow for improved views as well as letting in extra natural light
- Updated Color Palette: that properly contrasts to help with depth perception
- No Step Entryways: No threshold showers and no step doors throughout the house can reduce tripping hazards
- 36-inch Doorways: To accommodate wheelchairs or walkers
- Lever Style Fixture and Door Handles: These are easier to manipulate for homeowners with ailments like arthritis.
While these are general guidelines, there are many room specific renovations that can help to make aging-in-place safer and easier for homeowners as they age.
Kitchen and Bathroom
Both the kitchen and bathroom have challenges that are important to address when remodeling. In both rooms, it’s important to improve ease of use and accessibility. The kitchen and bathroom also pose potential safety hazards.
Bathrooms are potentially dangerous as we age, especially for someone with mobility issues. In fact, there are roughly 235,000 non-fatal bathroom injuries every year in the US alone.
Changes should include the addition of an adjusting height toilet or seat extender, grab bars near the toilet and the bath/shower, slip resistant floor treatments, a walk-in threshold free shower with a seat (or walk-in tub), hand-held shower head and anti-slip coating in the shower/tub.
When designing a kitchen for elderly homeowners the keys are ease of use and movement. Make sure the homeowner can reach all the cabinets comfortably, and that appliances are properly positioned to minimize movement.
Other changes may include adjusting the sink height, adding a hands-free faucet, using easy to open D-shaped cabinet and drawer pulls, large drawers, front mounted controls on the stove, under cabinet lighting, a pullout pantry, and rounded edges on countertops.
Work with An Interior Designer
While the kitchen and bathroom are the two most used rooms in every home, aging-in-place changes can be made in every room in the house. A qualified interior designer will familiar with aging-in-place design and can incorporate useful changes throughout the home to improve safety and functionality.
They also bring an artist’s eye to your project. While functionality and safety are most important when remodeling to stay in your home, aesthetics are equally important. An interior designer will bring equal parts art and science to their design to help create a home that will be not only safe and functional as you age, but also comfortable and beautiful.