Ageing in Place
This is a trend that has become popular as baby boomers are becoming seniors. I am definitely trying to find and design things for my addition that will help me stay in my house if I develop mobility issues. I am also keeping safety foremost, to prevent injuries that might make me immobile, even for a short while. I am so aware since last year’s injury of my rotator cuff took away months of normal behavior, and I’m still not back to full range of motion and strength – but I’m working at it. Think about what you’d do with only one arm or with a dozen staples in your belly for a couple of weeks (they hurt to move much).
Looks like this is going to be a long post, as I have a long list. Here’s what I’m doing for both convenience and safety.
I already have days with painful knees and hips, so single floor living with no steps at entry are obvious to me.
I’ve never been a big fan of carpeting, and no small rugs that might slip, bare hardwood is safer. I have been disappointed in the concrete floor, so am looking at possibly cork.
All electrical outlets at least 24 inches from floor. The electrician who worked on the original dome suggested this and I really like it.
Plus, plenty of outlets to prevent the need for extension cords.
A convenient shelf with outlets for a charging station – nearly everyone has a cell phone or other electronic devices, and they usually need daily charging. A handy location out of the way of other activities is good. Some of my family had a vacation in a place with a convenient kitchen bar, but by the time we all plugged in, it was hard to cook.
It’s good that I’ve never been a big fan of pot lights in the ceiling, as those would require a ladder to change bulbs. So, no lights in the ceiling and any wall mounted light won’t be too high for lightbulb change from a small stepstool or tall friend. Some of the LED Ikea spot lights I have bought have the long-lasting bulbs built in, so the while fixture will eventually be changed. I have mixed feelings about this, as it seems like too much throw-away, but they are not expensive and last a long time.
Both Sharon and I have already been happy with raised legs on furniture. Without short-legged children around, we prefer helping ourselves and friends to a couple of extra inches to get off a couch.
I even had made a to-scale diagram of my new place, making sure I had 3 to 4 feet of room around seating groups in the living room. This is in case I need mobility help in the form of a chair or scooter (or any visiting friends who might need the space). I got rid of furniture that I would not use before I left Roanoke. The powder room will have sufficient space and a pocket door to help.
In order to make cleaning easier, I will have wall-mounted toilets and sinks. Just running a duster or mop under without contending with legs will be better.
I am looking at grab bars for both the powder room and the master bath, as I found them invaluable during both hernia surgery recovery and the rotator cuff injury and surgery recovery. Also along these lines, a fold down seat in the shower is on my list. A walk-in shower makes sense, as stepping over a curb while balancing on one wet foot seems like asking for trouble. And again, if a wheelchair is ever needed in the future (even temporarily), easy shower access is good.
I’ve long been a fan of a handheld shower head, for speed alone, but if a person has to sit for a shower, that is necessary. I realized I don’t like the location of the current shower drain, as the slope is hard on ankles and knees. I am going to try for a slope forward, away from my feet instead of between them.
A jetted soaker tub – mostly to ease aches, but I’ve found a nice grab bar designed for a hot tub that looks good for a bathtub surround, and will swing out of the way when not in use.
I am a big fan of timer switches on fans. It makes sense for everyone – children forget to turn off fans, my mother was getting rather deaf and I often found she’d left her fan on for long periods of time.
I am already using lever handles on doors.
I am splurging on decent heating, so I will be comfortable in winter. I am not a fan of heat pumps, but have had radiant heating for most of the last 35 or so years. They may be an oddity around here, but I will have hot water radiators – efficient and very comfortable. Since it will be powered by natural gas, I am having a small utility building constructed outside of living quarters, that will house gas burning appliances. This will keep any potential for carbon monoxide away from living areas.
As we were planning the design, a bedroom egress window was required. Until A I Domes folks suggested using a different dormer/entry that would take away a few feet of floor space, I was having trouble picturing myself ever getting out the size window available. Not that I ever expect to need it, but I now will have a window low enough and wide enough to just about step through. Small, higher windows are for younger and more able-bodied people.
I have already bought a wheeled cart for moving clean laundry (even has bars for hanging clothes) from the laundry room to the far end with my new bedroom. No worry about dropping and tripping on clothes.
I am regretting the extra row of kitchen cabinets that are too high for me to reach, but I will have a pantry that should handle the space problem. The top cabinets can sit empty and just look good.
We have been happy with reach extenders, so convenient for the additional inches. When I was not allowed to bend for a few weeks after hernia surgery, they allowed me to pick up what I dropped and not have to wait for Sharon to visit. She keeps hers ready to slide curtains across the window, as the rods are just beyond her reach. This is what we use.
Eventually I plan to follow Sharon’s example and plug my computer into a large screen tv, so I can see my monitor from across the room. I don’t watch much tv now, so it is low on my list, but I will get one. Feet up in a recliner, cordless mouse and keyboard, what luxury!
For outside, I have a bench to put next to my door where I can place items while opening the door. This is not a big deal, but has been very handy, besides being a nice seat. I am planning for a few more exterior outlets and faucets, even a 220 outlet for family and friends who might visit with an RV. My sister and her husband had to choose between staying in a campground, or parking in the yard and not having air conditioning. They went to a campground, and I can’t blame them.
A poured sidewalk around the house is desirable, as rough ground and grass is not always easy to walk on. Also not at the top of the list, but eventually I want this.
I may be adding to this as I find good products, or problems to solve.