Aging in Place, Health and Welfare, Interior Design

The Search for a Home to Age in Place

Elsie and John are in their mid-70’s and 80’s and are looking to move into a home that is more conducive to their aging in place needs. Their current home is a split level with way too many stairs and no way to adapt it for their needs. John has to have hip replacement surgery and Elsie is feeling the effects of arthritis in her hands and knees. They are wondering where to start and what to look for in their new home.

Some general things they will need to consider looking for in their search for a home to age in place include many common sense ideas.  One of the best things to look for is a main floor area that has the kitchen, an accessible bathing area and a sleeping area located on it. This will be a lifesaver for these two not only as they age but as John heals from his surgery.

Another thing they will need to consider is an accessible entrance to the home in at least one location that doesn’t have steps.  If there are steps, they will need to make sure a ramp can be installed that has a very shallow slope.  They should consider their safety too with installing a ramp. Can they have it placed in a garage or somewhere that it isn’t a red flag stating there is someone there that requires a ramp. A Certified Aging In Place Specialist (CAPS) or someone trained in accessibility and remodeling for accessibility would be a great person to call for help determining what can be done.

Some other things John and Elsie should consider are the location of the laundry and the furnace/water heater areas.  Can they get to them? Elsie and John should also consider where things will be located and if they will be able to get to them as they continue to age. Also, they will need to pay attention to the doors to make sure they are wide enough. What if John has to use a walker or a wheelchair, could he maneuver easily? They should look for a home with doors that are a minimum of 32” wide but for good measure, they should try to choose a home that has 3’ wide doorways.  They should make sure the doors have lever handles and the cabinets have U-shaped handles so Elsie will be able to open them when her arthritis is acting up.  They should make sure they can lock their doors from a seated position too. 

John and Elsie need to consider the finishes that are throughout the home too. Are they easy to take care of and maintain? Are they safe for them? They will need to look past the glamour and think ease of maintenance and safety for their futures.  It is not as easy to maintain things as we age and Elsie and John are not going to want to hire someone to come in and change their furnace filter or put salt in their water softener. On top of that, is their retirement going to be sufficient to hire people to come in and maintain things?

The above considerations are just a few of the main things to consider when Elsie and John search for their home for a lifetime.  We will continue to explore what they can look for and do in future entries. Until then, The AARP has some great information on accessibility and aging in place considerations- please check them out.  Don’t get caught like John and Elsie and choose your home wisely and with an eye to the future.  If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact me: alesha@aechurba-design


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