Future-proof Your Home to Age in Place
We have all visited an aging loved one whose convalescent bed is found on the main floor of the house, in the living room or dining room. It was obvious why the bed was moved but it didn’t feel right to anyone, especially not the infirm person.
It is possible to age in place with comfort and style, but it will take some effort on your part.
To future-proof your home, you will need:
- An absence of stairs
- Wide doorways to accommodate a walker or wheelchair
- Slip-resistant floors
- Lever-style door knobs
- Remotely controlled lighting
- Walk-in shower
- Railings, ramps and lifts
This is real. Resist the temptation to dismiss these adaptations for daily living as frivolous or unnecessary and start tackling this list today.
The hardest adaptation for aging in place
Most home owners in the Ottawa area will have a bedroom upstairs and are not likely to have a full bath on the main floor. A renovation plan will therefore be needed to create a daily living pattern without stairs. This might involve moving a bedroom downstairs and adding a full bath to the main floor.
To keep costs as low as possible, make a line drawing of your current main floor layout and take it to your local hardware store to get advice on the easiest and most affordable way to add a full bathroom to your main floor. Remember, you will need a bathroom large enough for your vanity, sink, toilet and a walk-in shower.
You will likely need a handyman for your renovation. A non-skid ramp may also be needed to ease your way in and out of the house, and one or more doorways might need to be made wider. A good handyman can be hard to find so spend some time searching for a really good person whose references are current and impeccable.
The easy part of aging in place
Take charge of the do-it-yourself adaptations. You know that you will need lever-style knobs and taps throughout your house and you get to choose these fixtures. You may even be able to install some of the new levers, or at least dis-assemble some of the door knobs you have in place now. Get your family and friends involved.
Once you have decided which room will be your future bedroom, presumably on the main floor of your house, embrace your inner designer. Can you make any changes to the colour and decor of that room now, so that your future move-in with your bedroom furniture and belongings will look and feel natural?
Knowledge is power
Take some time to carefully review the catalogue of books available through the Ottawa Public Library system and order a number of the latest books so that you can inform yourself on the basic principles of home adaptations for seniors. Make a plan that you can follow.
For expert input to your plans for home adaptations, your family physician may be able to refer you to an occupational therapist.
Do it now and continue to enjoy aging at home!