Forever homes, or age-in-place homes, are a great option for homeowners to make a lasting investment in their residence. A forever home is a smartly designed home with single level living or space dedicated for an elevator, wide driveways, proper blocking and backing for future grab bars, lighting, outlet and switch heights, and many other well thought out ideas.
Install a pullout pantry
Pullout pantries make food and appliances more accessible without digging through cupboards.
Round your corners
Avoid 90-degree angles on countertops and open shelves. The last thing you want is to hit your hip or elbow on a sharp corner as you’re maneuvering in your kitchen. Round edges lessen the likelihood of bumps and bruises.
Strategize kitchen space
Keep the sink close to the stove. As we age, it’s harder on our arms and backs to carry big pots full of water to and from the cooktop. If any spills on the way, it becomes a slipping hazard.
You may be tempted to put your sink next to your stove, but be sure to leave workspace in between. It defeats the purpose if you’re forced to hold a pot longer than is comfortable because you can’t find a place to set it down.
Whether your microwave is free-standing or built in, having it at counter height is best for your back since it minimizes bending and reaching above your shoulders.
Nix corner cabinets
Blind corner cabinets won’t cut it. Yes, they provide ample storage space, but too often they turn into unofficial junk bins when you tire of getting on all fours to fetch the dish you need. Performing that bend-reach-lift motion also isn’t good for aging backs.
Look for corner cabinet bases that effectively eliminate the need for rummaging and reaching. They aren’t all the same, though. You have options, be it a convenient three-drawer base (left) or a traditional Lazy Susan.
Drawers, not doors
Pick drawers, not doors. The best part about drawers is that they display all your flatware and utensils at once, which allows for easy grabbing. You don’t have to get on your knees and peer into the back of the cabinet to see what’s available.
Large drawers don’t skimp on storage space. Any set wider than 30 inches can stow plenty of pots and pans.
Measure clearance space
Focus on clearance space. The standard clearance between cabinets, walls and appliances is 36 inches, which is enough room to comfortably pass in a walkway and have access to drawers and doors.
However, if you want a kitchen that can accommodate a wheelchair, you can use Americans With Disabilities Act guidelines as a reference point for your design.
Install proper flooring
Ensure that floors are slip-resistant. Materials that don’t get slick reduce the chances of falling when there’s a spill.
Floor tile should have enough grout and texture to grip your feet. Porcelain tile absorbs less moisture than ceramic tile or other flooring types; it’s also easy to maintain and clean.
Vinyl flooring can offer good slip resistance too, and it’s softer on your feet.
Increase the height of your vanity. The standard vanity height is 31½ inches (not including your countertop). This isn’t always high enough for homeowners. Raising the cabinet height to 34½ inches (this will reach standard kitchen counter height, including a 1½ inch countertop) can prevent you from having to hunch over as you’re washing up.
Buy a comfort-height toilet. Most toilets are less than 16 inches high. Comfort-height toilets are 17 to 19 inches high, which makes sitting and standing much easier. This will reduce the strain on your back and knees.
Install a shower bench. A safe place to sit in the shower is vital for an age-proof bathroom design. Decreasing the amount of time you stand in the shower not only eases the strain on your body, it also reduces the chances of slipping and falling.
Your bench can be a built-in and tiled or free-standing. You can even use waterproof seat cushions so you’re not sitting on a hard surface. Find a bench that is large enough for comfortably sitting and bathing.
Install a handheld shower head. These clever shower heads are easily adjustable for height and, when placed adjacent to your shower bench, enable you to wash up while seated.
Think twice about glass. Few things can open up a bathroom space like glass walls and doors, but if you’re looking for an effective way to age in place, they won’t always fit the bill. They typically require more maintenance. Expect to squeegee regularly to avoid streak marks.
Have a flat shower entry. This minimizes your risk of tripping over a step as you enter your shower. It’s also a wheelchair-accessible feature.
If you forego a shower step, your shower floor will need to be properly sloped to allow water to drain correctly. If you do include a step, don’t make it large and bulky.
Interested in your own forever home?
Aging in place is a wonderful alternative for independent seniors. Get started on your forever home early by contacting us today!