Every year, the National Aging In Place Council organizes a National Aging In Place Week to create a network of business professionals that aid in creating communities across the U.S. that will assist homeowners in creating home environments that will sustain long term care needs.
This year, the National Aging In Place Week takes place October 12 – 18. As a part of our ongoing education for aging in place, here are 7 tips that can help you be proactive in thinking about your future for long term housing and care needs.
1. Create a housing plan that allows you to live on one floor. Many homes now place master suites on the main level, with extra bedrooms on the second floor. During recovery from surgery, or when living with a long term ailment or disability, its important that all major living needs are met on one level, without having to navigate stairways.
2. Aging in place isn’t synonymous with a bad layout or an unattractive look. In fact many things that can help you age in place have various levels of usefulness, depending on your ability. The Denver Post recently had an article on Universal Design, showing how your floor plan really can have it all.
3. Work one room at a time. Start with things that give you the most satisfaction today. Maybe you’ve been dreaming of a walk in shower with multiple showerheads and sprays. Make the doorframe wide enough for a wheelchair, and add the extra showerheads as well. The key is to make it accessible both now and well into the future.
4. The baby boomer generation is aging, which will bring on a high need for accessible housing in the future. Accessibility may not be in your vocabulary today, but could actually add to your housing value in the near future.
5. Think fall prevention. One of the biggest risks for the elder population is falling. Build safety factors into your design such as wider doorways, foot lighting along hallways and stairwells, and carpeting with shorter, thicker pile.
6. Find adjustable items. Remember the cribs that converted into toddler beds when your kids were little? May items are now convertible for mobility limitations as well. Countertops can be lowered or raised to heights appropriate for the people living in a home, and can even be convertible to allow movement depending on needs.
7. Talk with a true universal design specialist to learn more about your options. They can answer all your questions, provide resources and guidelines, and offer suggestions to help you create a home you can be proud of. For instance, instead of building a simple wooden ramp to the front door, they may recommend changing out landscaping to make the entry more accessible by all, yet still attractive from curbside.
Above all, don’t wait until you need it. Learn your options early and start planning for the future now. It’s much easier to make subtle changes on a long term plan, for both your bank account and your home value.