The number one key to choosing finishes for Aging in Place is to consider yourself and your family and not just make the space “pretty.” Take this scenario, you have a nice space to call home, walls need to be painted and new flooring chosen, and basically you want to redo your space. Are you going to go with the current home trends found in most homes these days? Are you going to choose the generic taupe for the walls and hard wood and tile for the floors? What if you wanted to retire in this home? What if you are decorating and want to eventually age in place? Are you preparing your home for this?
There are many things to consider if you want to make your home your forever home. As you age your eyes also don’t see as well as they used to making your surroundings seem dark. If you design to the current home trends, your already dark space becomes a recipe for depression and even a safety disaster. Older eyes require more light to see things clearly and darker walls will absorb the light creating an even darker space. In addition to this, older eyes tend to view colors with a yellow cast to them. Not so exciting huh?
Take those shiny wood floors and ceramic tile that is so sought after in today’s homes; these finishes can create a slip situation that can be treacherous to someone who is older. Luxurious marble and tile are extremely slick yet are often placed in the bathrooms and showers. Yes, they look great but they are not the most functional for an older person. Brittle bones on a very hard floor make for a disastrous situation. Consider flooring that has a higher slip resistance factor. Lightly textured surfaces tend to be less slippery than highly polished material.
Our population is aging and if you are a Baby-Boomer you are already in your 50’s and even older. Chances are you will want to remain in your home for as long as possible so be pro-active and research the finishes you are looking at having installed and make sure they are safe, require low maintenance and provide comfort for you both now and in the future. Sites like the NKBA and the AARP sites provide some guidelines. Consider working with a CAPS. Universal Design elements and pre-planning can go a long way in making your home life safer and more comfortable: the hippest, hottest trends may look really cool but will they stand the test of time- your time?