Summer brings block parties and picnics, gardening and perennial swapping, and kids biking up and down the street. Your neighborhood, close to parks, lakes, and shopping, is exactly where you want to be and where you want to stay.
But you’ve started to wonder if that will be feasible. Your parents and older guests are starting to have problems getting up your front steps. The first-floor bathroom is cramped, and there’s nothing to grab onto if they lose their footing. Is this your future? Will you be able to grow old with your house?
You’re not alone with this question. According to AARP, about one percent of the 100 million homes in the U.S. are ready for “aging in place.” And we’re aging in Minnesota. Between 2010 and 2020, the number of residents 65 and older is expected to increase 41 percent. We’re also less likely to move after we retire. We snowbirds are staying in the snow.
Options exist to make our homes better for us, no matter what stage of life we’re in.
It’s time to look at your home through a new lens and determine how it can be adapted to fit your life in the coming years without sacrificing style, design, or functionality.
Here are the key areas to consider.
In general, the more you can locate essential spaces on the first level, the better. List your everyday tasks and how you would complete them if you had limited mobility. Which spaces would be too small, too high, or beyond your reach? What could be moved or adjusted on your first floor to make it most useful?
First, look at the size of the door, which typically is the smallest door in the house. Is it wide enough for a walker or wheelchair? Once you’re in the room, is there enough space to maneuver? Also think vertically. Do you have a low toilet and high sides on the tub? Both can be difficult to use if you have limited mobility. A quick way to check: would you be able to use them comfortably if your leg were in a full cast?
Check the clearances around your cabinets, doorways, and islands. Is there enough room to open the refrigerator and oven doors, load and empty the dishwasher, move between counters and the stove? Are the sink and counters at a height that works for everyone? Also, check if the floor surfaces are slippery or uneven, which could cause tripping or falling.
If you have an older home, it’s likely that your laundry area is in the basement, requiring you to carry baskets up and down steep stairs. A creative repurposing of space on your first floor, plus a stacked washer nad dryer, could save your knees and keep you in your house longer.
Have you ever noticed how many stairs you have in your home? Stairs to the front and back door, stairs between floors, possibly multiple sets of stairs leading from landings. Even if you move most of your living space to the first floor, you might need to navigate entrance steps from the garage or yard. Remodeling tweaks can smooth out and remove these obstacles.
The golden age is before us, not behind us. — William Shakespeare
We’re ready to help you stay in your house as long as possible. Our award-winning expertise in Universal Design will make sure that your renovation project not only enhances and improves your living space now but also builds in the functional characteristics you and your loved ones might need in the future.