It’s common to think of moving into a new home when there’s a baby on the way, or when you get a promotion with a raise. It’s either when your family is growing or the bank balance in your account that you think of buying a bigger, better house.
Granted, these are significant life changes, but it’s important to note that they’re restricted to a part of life when you’re young and able. You want your living conditions to accommodate your family comfortably or reflect the standard of living that you can afford with your income. But neither of these reasons account for the most life-changing, inevitable transition that occurs when you grow old.
One of the most significant blunders that homeowners make is not plan for life after retirement. Once you’re not in the prime of your life, it has been decades since your marriage, and your kids are all grown up, and your joints have started to show signs of age, you’ll need comfort and care. And your home is the ultimate haven that you’ll turn to.
Apart from post-retirement investment plans, pension advice, and life insurance plans, you also need to prepare your home to offer elder-friendly amenities. There’s no reason to hesitate from spending on yourself and the comfort you deserve if you’ve worked all your life and collected considerable savings. It’s your home and your greatest asset; it should be where you find your zen.
That’s only possible if you put some thought into designing your home. Or give your preferences to your real estate agent while they search for the perfect home for you! Here’s what to look for.
Easy on the Hands
You might be young and fit right now, but there will come a time when you’ll need help with the simplest of chores. But if you’re used to being self-reliant, you’d want to do it all by yourself. To make it possible, you need to find a home that’s easy to move around in. Whether it be the bathroom, living room, kitchen or bedroom, every part of the house should be designed to improve accessibility and mobility.
Before you start looking for homes that are marketed as elder-friendly, be clear on what you’re looking for. Here are some features you’ll need:
- Lever-style doorknobs are easier to grab and turn than the round ones. Replacing all the doorknobs can be a tedious, costly job. Look for houses that already have such knobs.
- Lever-style faucets turn more quickly than knobs. You want to maximize bathroom safety, especially if you live alone or with an equally old partner.
- Rocker switches are illuminated and easier to find when you wake up in the middle of the night and don’t have your glasses on. Make sure there are no toggle light switches in the house that set you up for a hunt whenever you want to turn on the lights.
- Grab bars always come in handy when they’re placed in the right spots. Regardless of how fit you are when you hit seventy, it’s essential to plan for any age-related medical conditions or disabilities. There should be ample grab bars in the shower closet, by the toilet seat, near the sink and by the door.
If you suffer a fall when you’re thirty, you’d most likely get up, dust your pants and move on. The most that you can lose is your composure, and that’s not as high a price to pay as fractured bones or muscle injury in old age.
There can be many dangers underfoot when you live in a house with freshly polished, tiled floors or gleaming marble flooring. Those can get slippery, especially if there’s moisture or liquid spilled on the surface. If a property you’re looking for has floors that aren’t elder-friendly, it might cost thousands to replace and install new flooring. You don’t want extra expenses on your account when you’re already paying for a house.
It might help to negotiate a lower price with the buyers so that you’re able to work on the floors. Consider getting an anti-slip polish on your existing tiled or hardwood floors. However, if you’re getting a good deal of a house with not-so-ideal floors, you can work your way around it by placing area rugs and nonskid mats that prevent falls.
The greatest feat that you’ll accomplish when you’re in the latter half of your life is climbing stairs. Regardless of how physically fit you’ve been all your life, you’d need help getting up a flight of stairs. It’ll leave you breathless, and you’d take double (or triple) the time than the younger folks.
However, it’s crucial that the difficulties don’t turn into danger. The stairs in your house shouldn’t be dangerously steep or narrow. The steps should be wide to allow you to set your foot firmly on each step until you reach the landing.
If you’re looking for a house with hardwood flooring, make sure to check the condition of the wood. If there are signs of swelling or cupping, the steps will be uneven, making it unsafe for you to walk unattended. This isn’t something you should compromise on, and you have the right to demand compensation for it.
Sometimes older people feel light-headed while walking up the stairs. You never know what surprises old age will bring for you. It’s vital to have grab bars on either side of the stairs to have support if you experience dizziness or momentary loss of vision.
Better Bath Facilities
We’ve already discussed the importance of grab bars in the bathroom. But this is going to detail other elder-friendly bathroom facilities you need to look for. If you want a tub in your bath, make sure the material is anti-slip and safe for elders. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported that about 235,000 casualties are reported yearly due to bathroom accidents. The severity of the damage can multiply exponentially if you’re frail and weak. Saving up on bathroom improvements is not worth the risk.
There are safer bathtub designs with cuts that allow easy entry and exit. These are better than hopping over the edge that might rock your balance and lead to a fall. However, if you’re comparing a bathtub’s pros over a shower, we’d say a step-in shower closet is safer.
The shower system can also be tailored and personalized to your liking. You can get modern shower designs installed in the bathroom to control water pressure, temperature, and speed. This can come in handy when you want to take a nice hot bath without going through much hassle.
A little planning goes a long way when you’re looking for a house with elder-friendly interiors. Planning for the seventh age of life will feel like a blessing when the time comes. Don’t overlook the necessity of choosing interiors that accommodate present and future needs—you don’t move homes every day!
Having a real estate broker who understands your concerns and inculcates them in their house search can help. If you’re looking for someone, you’ve come to the right place.
Phillip Fehler is a real estate broker at Fathom Realty. His experience in the real estate industry has granted him expert knowledge of the property market. He has offered his real estate brokerage services to many residential clients in Fayetteville and Fort Bragg in North Carolina.
His clients have always returned with positive reviews for his work ethic, commitment, knowledge, and service quality.