As Thanksgiving approaches, it’s time to think of family gatherings and assess if our home serves our needs for now, and the future as we age. It used to be questions such as can someone with a walker or in a stroller or wheelchair have easy access? Now that we have experienced a pandemic, there are other considerations: What if a family member was sick and needed to isolate? What if you needed to bring your parents to stay? Do you have a quiet place for a home office or for kids to do online learning? Here are some aspects to consider when remodeling:
Entry. Have at least one zero-threshold, covered entry into the home. Someone in a wheelchair will need doorways to be at least 32 inches wide, and hallways to be at least 36 inches wide.
Kitchen. Have a stretch of counter space at a height of 30 inches. Consider a wall oven with a side opening door and a raised dishwasher. Specify that the lower cabinets have roll-out shelves or drawers. Have an adequately-sized pantry for storage of bulk items, and to easily see what you have on hand.
Master Bathroom. Have a no-threshold, walk-in shower with grab bars and shower seat/bench and adjustable-height showerhead. Specify a comfort-height toilet with a nearby outlet for a bidet seat. Have the vanity be up at least 10 inches off the floor for greater wheelchair accessibility. Have in-floor, heated tile on your non-slip floor.
Second Master Suite or In-Law Suite. Have one master bedroom and accessible bathroom on the first floor if possible. Making it an in-law suite, including a seating and eating area, and a wet bar/kitchenette for some separation and independence for parents, a roommate, or a caretaker. Dual Masters are becoming more popular, and if someone needs to quarantine, they would have their own bathroom.
Home Office or Exercise Room. If you’re working or schooling from home, an office can separate you from the noise of the rest of the house. Some have made their guest room primarily be an exercise room by getting a Murphy bed to free up space. You may want to do a casita for this purpose.
General Home Tips. Select quality, non-slip vinyl flooring which is easier on the joints. Visually contrast colors for any steps or stairs, or for countertops. Lighting is important, with lots of natural light. Ask for outlets to be higher (easier to reach), for rocker switches, and lever door handles. Make sure you have a good, fresh air exchange, since indoor air is polluted. (It can be turned off if outdoor air becomes heavily polluted.)
You will find comfort and peace of mind by making your home ready to serve changing needs.
Happy home remodeling!
Janet Cook, Certified Aging in Place Specialist, President of Cook Remodeling (celebrating their 41st year), invites you to check out their website for more ideas and photos.