What to Think About Now for Aging in Place
There’s no question that Americans are aging. The Population Reference Bureau estimates the number of citizens who are 65 and older will nearly double from some 52 million currently to more than 95 million by 2060—and an aging population will need practical solutions for living safely and independently as seniors.
Some basic home design features, such as wider doorways, wider hallways and entryways without steps, may be best left to new home builders. But for homeowners with renovation plans in mind, there are a few features well worth considering.
- Lower Countertops – Kitchen countertops that are just three inches lower than the standard 36-inch height allow the wheelchair-bound or seniors with limited mobility to continue participating in meal prep.
- Thoughtful Kitchen Storage – Lower cabinets with pull-out shelves, ‘lazy Susan’ corner cabinets and easy-pull handles offer additional convenience for those with mobility issues.
- Smart Appliances – Sight sometimes fails as we get older, as well as short-term memory. When choosing appliances, opt for easy-to-read microwave ovens and stoves with automatic shut-off features that ensure they won’t stay on if forgotten.
- Bathroom Aids – Practical think-ahead solutions that make aging in place easier include walk-in tubs or showers with seating, hand-held showerheads, comfort-height toilets and grab bars near the toilet and in the shower.
- Non–Slip Floors – Fall-related injuries are commonplace for seniors. While it’s impossible to prevent every fall, you can minimize the risk by installing non-slip flooring choices, such as low-pile carpet, cork and slip-resistant vinyl.
- Good Lighting – Adequate lighting is critical for seniors. Install bright lighting in hallways and stairs. Outdoors, consider motion-sensor lights that don’t need to be turned on and that will keep the area well-lit at all times.