If you are thinking of moving into a home, building one that you can retire in, or wondering how you can make your elderly parent's home easier to live in - there are some things to look for to make living as a Senior Adult or a person with a disability easier. Here is a list of 21 proven helpful ideas and tips.
1. Rocker style light switches and lots of ways to turn lights on/off from different locations - commonly known as 2-way or 3-way. Plenty of natural lighting, overhead lights and electrical outlets. Ideally, electrical outlets should be higher off the floor than code says and many more in number, this makes placing of lights easier, cords are less likely to be in the way too. In large spaces, consider in-floor outlets which will eliminate cords and allow for furniture placement options. This also is very handy if you have a small bedroom and someone needs a hospital bed in a living or dining room area.
2. All doors - going inside/outside and doorways into rooms should be at least 36" for wheelchair, scooter, walker, etc. use. You need to have 18" wall space free of clutter on the latch side of the doorway (in & out of room) so if you are in a wheelchair you can get close enough to the handle to easily open/close the door. Watch out not to block the space with furniture. Look into pocket doors - you gain footage and ease
3. Plenty of phone jacks so phones can be throughout the house, as you age, it takes longer to get to the phone. This also is safer in case of emergency situations
4. Railings up/down stairs both sides, railings in the bathroom for balance getting up/down on the toilet and in/out of showers/tub
5. Think about a security system that include an emergency button that has a wrist or neck chain you can wear or put in your pocket. These are very affordable and can even be used outside within many feet of the home
6. Hang a tennis ball on a string from the ceiling in the garage to hit your windshield at the right parking spot. Makes life easier. Make sure that if you have electric garage door openers, that if the power goes out, a "short" and not physically strong person can open the door to get the car out. Think about an on-demand generator....takes care of so many obstacles and dangers
7. Have drawers for all of your under cabinets in the kitchen, makes finding things easy, less lifting and actually uses space more efficiently
8. Washer/Dryer on floor near bedroom as this is where most laundry is generated
9. Make sure house is one floor, or if two-story, has a staircase extra wide so a stair-chair climber can be installed. They now have home elevators at affordable prices that work like a bank air tube and thus they even work when there is no power coming downstairs
10. Windows should be able to be cleaned from inside the house, both sides.
11. Really spend time looking at the bathroom and how you can make it usable if you broke your leg, if you had severe arthritis or if you were weak. Tub/shower/faucets/sprayers/slipping/room for equipment and mobility equipment.
12. Door knobs and faucet knobs should be lever type.
13. Maintenance free as much as you can, inside and outside of the home.
14. Is the home located near important resources such as grocery store, doctor/medical, pharmacy, friends, and church/clubs/activities? Consider this in case you can't drive at night or very far or if you couldn't drive at all. How far to fire/rescue/police services to
15. Open space vs. a house with many tiny rooms is best for flexibility as you age. Consider how far you have to walk in the home just to do daily living activities
16. Think about a doggie or cat door, if appropriate and the animal will be safe. It could go into a fenced in area, they can be closed off at night and they make living much easier
17. Re-think flooring. Does it have to be washed often, is it slippery, can a wheelchair go on it easily, and is it easy to care for and maintenance.
18. Stairs whether they are inside or outside the house can quickly become large obstacles, consider placement, width & rise, how often need to use, number, etc. for your future being to access areas of your home, getting in/out of your home and being safe
19. Higher toilets are available and they make it easier to get up/down. There are now combo shower/tubs you walk into and they keep coming down in price too
20. Having paved driveways and walkways is very helpful for safety, use of devices if necessary and in a snow climate, melt faster. Consider fire escape plans too, we just don't move as quickly or as easily as we age or when you have limitation
21. If you can just look at a home through aging eyes or have someone with a disability or who is a Senior Adult look at things for you, you can have a much happier, safer and easier life in your home. Vocational Rehabilitation, which is in every state and usually located in the Department of Labor or Human Services, has at least one person fully trained in accessibility. (They are responsible for the Americans with Disabilities Act) and would be able to answer questions about your home in the sense of what can be done to make things easier
Some disability organizations may have a trained person in accommodations/adaptations too, or contact The Practical Expert for Tonia who is well trained in this area and who also lives it.
If you belong to a club, think about having it reviewed for suggestions of making it easier to access. This helps Senior Adults, people with disabilities and even people with a temporary injury (such as a person with a broken leg) to attend things like school graduations, belonging to civic organizations, for volunteering at places and going to many types of activities. Many accommodations/adaptations have no cost or little cost that can make a huge impact in people utilizing the place. Example, # of handicap spots at a school and how far to walk to the gym, etc.
Keeping your eye on how life can be more accessible and safer for senior adults, elderly parents and people with injuries or disabilities, means it is easier and safer for everyone, not just for today but for the future too.
About the Author
Tonia Boterf - The Practical Expert(TM) is there to lend you a hand with some of life's tougher challenges. Through coaching, articles, books, and other resources, we provide you with the information and the tools you need to help you live your life fully. Try a free trial coaching session today!