When people start to consider retirement and old age the common thinking tends to be that they will have to downsize by moving from their current property to a smaller, more manageable home. In many cases this means leaving behind a property they have patiently paid off over 20 to 30 years, raised a family in and become emotionally attached to.
After giving so much commitment to creating a home this hardly seems like a fair outcome but thankfully there is a far less stressful and economical alternative available to senior homeowners.
Adapting your current house into an environment suitable for your later years takes a bit of forward thinking and planning but it allows you to remain in a property you have worked hard to own and makes you feel safe and comfortable.
Read on to see some of our tips on how to prepare your home for retirement.
The master bedroom
In the majority of cases the master bedroom is often found on the first floor of a property, sometimes even higher. When your knees are younger this is usually no problem, but stairs can become more problematic as we get older. If the master bedroom is on a floor higher than the first, you can consider moving it lower down. If you believe the first flight of stairs may become an issue later in life, see if you can resituate it on the ground floor to make it more accessible.
Keep the home secure
You work hard to ensure your home is a place you can relax in comfort and as such you will want to ensure it remains secure at all times. A good starting place is to install a prominent alarm system with external signage to help ward off potential burglars and intruders.
You may even consider a panic button in certain areas of the house to alert relevant authorities should it be needed. Strong locks and dead bolts on doors will further tighten security and double check windows have fully operational locks with internal keys.
Replace door knobs and switches
Simple adjustments like switching door knobs to handles can make opening and closing doors a lot easier. This doesn’t just have to be on doorways either. If opening cabinets in the living room, kitchen or bedroom could prove problematic bigger handles can be placed onto them too.
This is an idea that can also be applied to sinks in the bathroom and kitchen to make turning taps on and off that bit easier by changing to a larger size. Perhaps even consider removing smaller light switches and replacing them with something larger and a bit more accessible.
Taking care in the kitchen
Adjustments made in the kitchen can make the world of difference too, especially given how much of our time we spend there. Wall cabinets may need to be lowered to put them in reach without having to climb onto a stool. Make the drawers shallower so you are not constantly bending down rummaging around to see what’s at the back. Counter tops shouldn’t be too high or low so you can avoid any back strains.
Adapting the bathroom
No matter what the age group, slips and falls often occur within the bathroom so it pays to make it a safe environment. The addition of slip prevention flooring in both the bathroom and/or shower area is a good starting point such as non-slip bath mats that won’t give way underfoot.
The installation of u-shaped grab bars in the bath tub, shower and next to the toilet will make it easier to get out of sitting positions without losing balance. You could even place a bench or fold down seat in the shower or bath. Adjustable height shower heads will also mean less stretching that could destabilise you reaching above height.
Changing doorways and floors
The introduction of non-slip flooring in the entrance and on the pathway into the property will make it much safer to access and be sure to repair any uneven walkways or cracks that can affecting your footing on the way in. If wheelchair access is required consider creating a no-rise entry complete with ramps, while you may also need to look at widening doorways on the front door and entrances to rooms.
Stair and wheelchair lifts
Although the price of a stairlift can seem high, the convenience and extra value it can add your life in old age is priceless. For anyone dealing with limited mobility a stairlift enables them to live independently in a property that features stairs. If the thought of moving the master bedroom downstairs seems like too much work this will be the perfect solution.
Alternatively, for those using a wheelchair, there are lifts available that are designed to work in domestic properties. This will require more work than installing a stairlift (unfortunately wheelchairs cannot be used with these) but it will enable you to live without restriction in the comfort of your own home.
Getting up from sitting or lying down can place extra stress on the knees and back area but by adding mobility furniture into the living room or bedroom it becomes far less of a concern. For example, motorised rise and recline chairs help elderly people who do not have much upper body strength by easily tilting into place. Mobility sofas can either be motorised or static while providing great back and shoulder support while sitting down.
Electric beds use a remote control mechanism to get into position and you can adjust the height of the bed to make it easier to get in and out. This is perfect for anyone dealing with severe medical conditions, poor mobility, arthritis, respiratory problems and much more.
While all of this may sound like a lot of work it doesn’t have to be implemented in one go. As you are approaching the age of retirement you can start giving consideration to what sort of changes you may need.
Not all of the suggestions above may be suitable for you but for those that are you can make the adaptations in small increments which will allow you to gradually get used to the new outlay of your home.