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How long do you plan to live in your own home? As do most of
us over 45-ers, you probably want to continue living independently for as long
as possible. If you’re younger, you most likely have parents or close relatives
who feel the same way. “Aging In Place” is a concept for modifying your home to
accommodate age related physical and mental challenges that allows you to live
safely, comfortably, and happily throughout your senior years.
It’s a subject we don’t like to think about, but aging is
inevitable. Today, I attended a workshop at DCOTA (Design Center of the
Americas) on aging that provided a catalog of aging-related recommendations.
However, I condensed the list to suggestions that you can begin making today
that enhance life whatever your age.
Lighting: Replace yellow incandescent lights with LED bulbs
that have a white light. As we age, our eye lenses turn yellow making it more
difficult to see in light produced by incandescent bulbs. Add under cabinet light
strips in the kitchen and bath. There are even battery powered strips with an
adhesive that fit inside drawers and shelves. Layer lighting with direct,
indirect, and task fixtures that are on dimmers for total light control.
Showers: Update to a barrier-free shower.
In addition to the
drain in the middle of the
shower, place one flush with the tile by the door,
eliminating the necessity of stepping over the low threshold. Add a bench and a
hand-held showerhead for showering while seated.
Baths: Many bathroom fittings have been designed that are
attractive and can double as grab rails: paper holders, towel bars, soap
dishes, etc. Make certain they’re affixed to walls that are reinforced to withstand 250lbs.
Flooring: Consider the slip factor. Pre-finished engineered
wood flooring is more slippery that traditionally finished wood floors. Slate is
naturally a non-slip surface. Porcelain tiles are less slippery than marble.
Use radiant heating in bathrooms; area rugs become very slippery in moist settings.
Kitchens: French door refrigerators reduce bending and
reaching. Microwaves should be placed at or under counter top level instead of their
customary spot above the stove. Induction cooktops are the safest stoves you
can own. The surface cools immediately after lifting a pot, and many turn off
automatically when water boils out.
Stove controls should be at the front rather than at the rear.
Doors should be a minimum of 32” in width.
“Smart” equipment and appliances are energy efficient and
makes life more convenient. Many applications can be downloaded to your cell
phone to run many features of your home from a distance.
These are just a few design updates that can be incorporated
into your home to make life more convenient and enjoyable at any age, add value
to your home, and will continue to address comfort and safety as you reach your