7 Changes to Make in Your Home Before You Age

An elderly couple standing outside a house.
  • Intermediate

The possibility of remaining at home while you age is an exciting prospect to many people. Not only does it give you the freedom to live on your own terms, but it also comes with a share of dignity and comfort that does not come from anywhere else. However, most homes do not adhere to universal design and are not equipped with the necessary tools to enable people to remain at home while they age. With that in mind, there are a few things you can do to make your home more accommodating to all.

1. Lighting

In addition to adding more contrast to the colors in your home, consider installing more light fixtures to brighten specific areas. There are plenty of options when it comes to lighting, including ambient lights that differ depending on the room, spotlights that focus on specific areas, and adjustable lights that can be installed in multiple areas throughout a home, including bathroom sinks, stairs, and countertops.

2. Contrasting Colors

A modern looking staircase.

Along with aging comes a decline in our ability to see things clearly in low light, including steps and varying surfaces. An easy way to remedy this is to infuse the rooms in your home with light and contrasting colors. This is particularly useful because the colors will highlight different surfaces throughout a home and make them easier to see. For example, a hand railing that is painted in a contrasting color from the wall will help it stand out more and increase its ease of use.

3. Outdoor Ramp

Another big problem area in most homes is the front door. More specifically, it can be difficult getting up and down the stairs, especially when the weather turns bad. A good solution to this problem is to build a ramp at the entry. Make sure the ramp is sturdy, well-spaced, contains handrails, and features non-slip flooring to ensure good footing.

4. Shower Improvements

A glass shower in a bathroom.

The shower is often a major accessibility problem in most houses. Luckily, there are many ways to make getting in and out of a shower a breeze. This includes installing a walk-in shower complete with a glass door. Not only does a walk-in shower enable easy access due to its proximity to the floor, but it also can help prevent falls and missteps that result from a slippery surface. Additionally, grab bars in the shower can also be great in aiding easy access to the shower. With so many options available, you don’t have to sacrifice looks for functionality.

5. Walkways

Speaking of outdoor accessibility, walkways are another potential source of accessibility problems. In order to address this, create as smooth a walkway as possible with plenty of space and rails. The idea is to make a walkway that is completely free of any sort of barriers or obstructions. Not only will this help in the accessibility of the home, but it will also be easier to keep clean throughout the year.

6. Laundry Room

A front loading washing machine.

It may not be at the forefront of many minds, but laundry can often be a difficult task to accomplish as you age. This is especially true if you are lugging heavy baskets of laundry in and out of a small space. To fix this, consider enlarging the existing laundry room or moving it to a bigger space, like the closet of the master bedroom. Further, front-load washing machines can make the task of loading the machine easier as you won’t have to constantly bend up and down when adding or removing clothes from the machine.

7. Doors

Widening the doors in your home is a great way to accommodate the extra space that is needed for both wheelchairs and walkers. Not only do wider doors allow wheelchairs to pass freely through, but they also allow room for more than one person to get through the door at one time. This is useful if you have someone who will be assisting you on a regular basis. Typically, 36 inches is the standard width for hallways and doors to accommodate wheelchair access.

Things to Consider

Remember, your plan in making your home more accommodating as you age will differ depending on several factors, including the layout of your home, accommodation equipment, and, of course, budget concerns. In the end, the best practice to ensure your home is able to accommodate your age is to start as early as possible in making the necessary changes.