One thing that is certain in life is that we will all grow older. It is this recognition that underlies aging-in-place design concepts that are being implemented in many new home additions, expansions, renovations and constructions. After all, why build your dream home only to need to move later because the house no longer meets your needs? Aging-in-place design ensures that your home is ready to adapt with you through life’s changes and continues to meet your needs into the future.
What is Aging in Place?
The idea of aging-in-place design is that people should be able to live in the home that they choose to live in as they grow older, as Age in Place describes. People should have the option of remaining in their home for as long as possible, and should not need to move because of the physical limitations that are common with aging. The aging-in-place concept also includes the idea that people should be able to access services that are needed to maintain their independence within the comfort of their home. While the overall concept of aging-in-place includes access to services and other lifestyle components like health care and finances, a key part of the concept focuses on the home itself.
Aging-in-place designs tend to focus heavily on ensuring accessibility of the home – wider hallways for wheelchairs or walkers and single-floor designs that reduce the use of stairs, for instance, notes AARP. Another large part is helping people avoid falls. Balance tends to deteriorate as people age for a number of reasons, and this loss of balance becomes particularly dangerous when a person lives in a building that was not designed to accommodate those with mobility problems or physical limitations. Reducing steps, including walk-in showers and eliminating other narrow spaces and rough room transitions can help remove these mobility hazards and make the home more accommodating all throughout life.
Why Aging-in-Place Matters
An unfortunate part of aging is that our bodies begin to slow down and may often develop age-related problems. As this happens, many people find that their home is no longer accessible to them whether it’s due to problems with vision, hearing, mobility, strength or coordination.
Seniors may find it difficult or impossible to navigate stairs, for example. Those who need to use a wheelchair or walker during later years may find that the hallways or doorways in the home are too narrow. Showers may be difficult to access, and toilets may be too low.
Designing a home with aging in place as a core concept allows the home to be planned in a forward-thinking manner. This means that you won’t need to renovate or move to adjust to life in your golden years. Instead, you can continue enjoying your home just as you always have. As another benefit, if you decide to sell or move, your home will be welcoming to a wider range of prospective buyers, helping it have a greater market appeal and allowing you to sell your house more quickly.
Aging-in-Place Home Ideas
The National Association of Home Builders publishes an Aging-in-Place Remodeling Checklist that can serve as a helpful starting point. The checklist is admittedly not comprehensive, but is designed to offer a quick reference and start point as you consider renovations or new construction.
The NAHB Aging-in-Place checklist highlights a number of different areas of the home, and identifies possible features in each area that should be considered. The exterior, for example, may feature low-maintenance siding, landscaping and hardscapes that require little maintenance throughout their lifetime. The main living area of an aging-in-place home should be on a single floor, and should have hallways that are at least 36 inches wide to accommodate wheelchairs in the future, if necessary.
One option for a future-proof home is to have it built based on an aging-in-place design. This can be an ideal option for buyers who have time to plan ahead or who want to move to a new location.
Remodeling an existing home with an aging-in-place design is also an option for those who want to remain in their current home. Many features of an existing home can be improved to make it more accessible, safe, and usable.
The bathroom is frequently remodeled to make a house more accessible. Consumer Reports describes some of the options for an aging-in-place remodel, including installing grab bars, a taller toilet and an accessible shower. These and other bathroom renovations could be completed as part of a bathroom remodel project working with Reynolds Home Builders.
Aging-in-Place is for Everyone
Considering aging-in-place ideas while you are still young can be beneficial in the long term. A home that features aging-in-place design is just smart planning for the future, similar to purchasing long-term care insurance or steadily building retirement savings. Planning for aging in your own home early in life can help you avoid needing to make major lifestyle changes or expensive changes or renovations to your home as you grow older. Plus, it means that the house you’ve made your home for your whole life can continue to serve that role well into your golden years.
Reynolds Home Builders provides a full range of construction services, including new home construction, additions and custom remodeling throughout central Florida. Contact us today at 850-508-5076 to schedule an appointment today and let’s discuss the benefits of a home or renovation project designed with aging-in-place in mind.