The concept of “age in place” has been around for a little while, and with the population of Americans over the age of 65 expected to reach over 70 million in the next decade, this concept is probably here to stay. Some key features of this concept include the following:
· Building or buying a single-story or one and a half story house. By putting all of the main areas of a house (kitchen, master suite, living room) on one floor of the house, residents can reduce or eliminate the need to climb stairs – something that could become troublesome as we age. Fortunately, in Texas, many home designs already have the master suite located on the first floor.
· Laundry rooms on the main floor. Again, with concerns about stairs, having the laundry room on the main floor can make life a lot easier.
· In the bathroom, having shower stalls with a zero-threshold entry is perfect for easing into aging at home. Stepping over a slippery ledge to get in and out of the shower can cause problems, and slip and fall accidents are a big risk. Existing shower stalls can be remodeled with a gently-sloped floor to keep water inside without having to step over the ledge. Placing decorative grab rails and having room inside the shower for a portable (or designing a built-in) shower chair will also come in handy down the road, as will hand-held faucets and fixtures. Another consideration in the bathroom is the installation of taller height toilets.
· Kitchen features to make life easier include a raised dishwasher so you do not have to bend over as far to load and unload. Microwaves built into a lower-level cabinet are easier to reach if wheelchair access is ever needed. Installing pull out shelves in your cabinets will make accessing the back corners much simpler.
· Lever-style doorknobs are easier to grip while still being quite stylish. Handles on cabinets should be D-style instead of round.