I’ve found my forever home and I don’t intend to move. I love my home and I want to start making it the perfect nest for me. I don’t know what lies ahead for me health wise but I do want to grow old here. How can I make my home as ageproof and as beautiful as possible?
I’ve put together a top 10 step guide and suggestions based on my experiences as a carer and Buildmumahouse blogger – steps that anyone can make in order to future proof your forever home.
Step 1 – LED light bulbs
It’s an investment, they are expensive, but this takes minutes to implement and they have an immediate impact.
Over time you will find that as LED bulbs last a long time, 25,000 t0 50,000 hours, they will reduce the number of times in a year that you have to reach up, step on a ladder or chair and change the ceiling lights.
LEDs will reduce your lighting electricity bills, it’s estimated that this can be as much as a 90% saving.
Light up your life and make it easier to see. Support your eyesight by installing effective lighting and create the mood areas in your home that are favourite with interior designers. Install daylight / cool temperature lights in any food prep or craft areas and warm lights in cosy, relaxing areas. Light temperature can lift our mood – there are claims that daylight bulbs can be used to reduce the depressive symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The right LED can change your life
…And finally make sure areas such as steps and the stairs are well lit, read my blog post with more details here.
Step 2 – Install lever taps
Easy to use lever taps don’t have to make bathrooms and kitchens look like pre – op scrub room. There are so many fantastic, well designed lever taps on the market but do invest in taps with smooth, positive mechanisms.
When looking at lever taps for a sink or shower ask yourself: Do they look nice? Do they fit in with my styling? Can I can turn the water on using only the palm of a very soapy hand and with my eyes closed ? Will I have full control of the water flow and perhaps more importantly, temperature.
In the kitchen consider lever taps with a built in water filter, I did and now I don’t have to buy unwieldy bottles of filtered water in the supermarket every week.
Step 3 – Bathroom Wetroom
This is a biggie and it can have maximum impact on your life and maximum disruption when you are doing the building work.
Think shower, think sitting while showering, think grab rails, think wetroom. This is such a huge subject and a few blog posts in itself but here are the main points to ageproof a bathroom:
- Get rid of any steps in the room, avoid trips.
- Seriously consider installing a wet room, this will give you a bathroom with a level floor. For a really cool, modern take on it, think laterally about the shower design – read my review of Jee-O
- Use non- slip flooring, have a look at the Forbo range, or seamed vinyl Altro safety flooring.
- Don’t need grab rails or a shower seat? Prepare the wall structures for that possibility by installing a 2x 2 wood frame in the appropriate areas of any stud walls.
- If you don’t want to get rid of your bath right now but have the budget to remodel your bathroom, consider this trade tip: create a wetroom, get all the plumbing ready for a shower but install a bath in its place. It’s a ‘temporary’ arrangement and when you need to ditch the bath, the conversion will take days not weeks.
Step 4 – Bathroom Basin
Basin, lever taps and consider installing a basin with space to sit when you use it.
Take a look at the practical HEWI range, but also think pampering and perhaps even spa – either way do make sure the basin is well secured to the wall, in case you need to steady yourself.
Step 5 – Loo Pan
Look out for a toilet pan that is taller than average, to make lowering yourself easier. You don’t need to buy a ‘disabled’ loo pan just check the height of the ones that fit in with your design style.
If you have the space, select one that projects out from the wall as far as possible, this will make it easier to use with grab rails or transferring from a wheelchair.
Arthritic hands make it harder to use button flushes so do consider a cistern with a handle flush.
Step 6 – Door handles and locks
Review your door handles and door locks: a chunky door handle, well sprung, smooth in the hand and with good tonal variation from the door surface is what you are looking for. This will help weakened or arthritic hands, and weakened eyesight.
Step 7 – Staircases
Improve the lighting on your stairs, think about low level lights that illuminate the steps or ceiling lights that illuminate the whole area.
Review the electrics – make sure that the lights can be switched on and off upstairs and downstairs and if you would like to make it mobility proof, consider adding a socket at the foot of the stairs. So handy for the vacuum cleaning, but also makes the area ready to power a stairlift in the future. This is your forever home.
Step 8 – Kitchen Cupboards
- High visibility, easy to reach and it looks good that’s the mantra for kitchens – a base unit with deep drawers rather than a cupboard with doors improves acccess to cupboards. Look at how this can be applied to your choice of dishwashers and freezers.
- Door handles – as with all doors, go for an easy to use, high contrast / visibility handle.
- Waist height, side opening oven allows you to reach into the oven more easily and even better if there is a slide out shelf beneath it so you can pause and rest the hot and heavy casserole on it.
- A high contrast worktop for good visibility, white is the best. I installed white sparkly in my mum’s house, looks great and does the job!
- Lots of cold/white light shining down on the worktop, including under cupboard lights, everything illuminated.
I reviewed Howden’s inclusive kitchens read through this… some of their ideas and features could work for you.
Step 9 – Electrics
Sourcing replacement light switches with wide rockers certainly is a budget installation and one that makes a difference for arthritic hands.
In this image you can see how I have clustered the wide rocker bedroom light switch with a central heating thermostat and the video door phone.
Step 10 – Easy Clean, Low Allergenic Flooring
Consider parquet, cork flooring, linoleum:
…with underfloor heating or rugs that have an anti- slip backing.
Step 10 a – Carers
Make a contingent for someone staying over, a spare bedroom or upgrade to a sofa bed.
Step 10 b – Let the Natural Light In
Read my blog post how double glass doors, use of mirrors, over sized windows and garden doors can lighten and brighten your home and increase its style.
All of these steps are covered individually in other posts on Buildmumahouse, have a look round for more detail. If you have any tips or hints on how you have adapted your home to make it ageproof and stylish WE ALL WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!!!
So please, share your comments below…