With rising healthcare costs and longer lifespans, the number of people choosing to age in place is increasing. New technology and extended services for aging citizens, like meals on wheels and single-button life alert technology, make it much easier and more attractive to maintain independence at home.
And really, it makes sense! Who wouldn’t choose to remain in their own home when given the opportunity? Small comforts like your own bed and kitchen and the independence of continuing your own daily schedule relatively unhindered also speak to the value of aging in place.
One way to make aging in place more accessible is to build your next home with those considerations in mind. Custom builders can help create a home that’s perfect for your current lifestyle, and that will flow easily into your later years as well, by incorporating smart design choices that reflect your style, but also work to keep you safe and comfortable for years to come.
If you’re considering aging in place, or if your family member is hoping to maintain their independence in their own home as they age, here are a few modifications a custom builder can incorporate into your new home, to ensure your brand new custom home helps you maintain your independence, and suit your style for years to come:
Doorknobs can be hard to grab as we age. Arthritis and other functionality hindrances can make it difficult to grasp and turn simultaneously. Simply choosing door levers, which require less effort, instead of doorknobs, is an easy solution.
No-Step Floor Plan
Falling is one of the greatest risks to individuals over the age of 65. The older we become, the easier it is to break bones, and the more difficult it is to rehabilitate. A great way to reduce the potential for trips and falls is to create a no-step floor plan.
This is also a great way to ensure a home is accessible for an individual using a wheelchair or walker. And, with the right builder, a no-step floor plan can be relatively easy to implement. Creating entrances that require no steps, and laying an even first floor to eliminate stairs can be done to ensure residents can age in place comfortably and safely. Since today’s greatest trend in home building is an open floor plan, quality custom builders are used to creating spacious, step-free layouts.
Uneven flooring throughout the home presents an additional risk of trips and falls. If you’re hoping to age in place, it’s a good idea to consider building your home with just one-floor type throughout. A consistent floor selection throughout the home will eliminate subtle changes in the height of the floor that could pose tripping risks.
Bedroom on the First Floor
Another consideration to make is building your custom home with enough space so that you could eventually have all of your essential rooms on the first floor, if necessary. This doesn’t mean putting a bedroom in on the first floor right away, but ensuring there is additional space, or designing your home with an additional sunroom that could later be converted into a bedroom might be a good option. You’ll also want to make sure you have access to a full bathroom on the first floor, to eliminate expensive renovations as the years go on.
Stair Lift or Elevator
If building a single floor residence isn’t practical, or doesn’t fit with your ideal custom home, another great option is to install a stair lift or elevator. This ensures residents can comfortably age in place without having to change the features they’ve always loved about their home. Best of all, an elevator can add serious value to a number of homes, increasing the resale value if you do decide to sell in the future.
Widen Doorways or Hallways
Tight doorways and narrow hallways are difficult to maneuver while using a wheelchair or walker. A quality custom builder can help widen those spaces and ensure they’re configured to accommodate a resident who hopes to age in place and is worried about mobility in the future.
In the same way that doorknobs can be hard to grasp, doors can be difficult to maneuver around, especially for someone using a wheelchair or walker. Pocket doors make it far easier to walk through doorways, and they have the added benefit of offering up a bit more space. Since they slide into the wall, they’re not in the way when they’re open and can offer wider spaces to walk through.
If you’re looking to make a home safe for someone as they age, grab bars are a must in the bathroom. Slips and falls are easiest when the floor is wet, and a grab bar can help ensure safety and security, keeping residents from falling accidentally onto the hard bathroom floor.
In the same way that grab bars can make a bathroom safer, so too can a walk-in tub or shower. A normal step-over tub is difficult to get into as we age because it requires you to balance on one foot on a slippery bathroom floor and step into the tub. Even if you have grab bars, you can further eliminate risk by simply installing a beautiful (and popular style trend) walk-in shower. This is an aesthetically pleasing way to ensure your home will continue to accommodate you as you age, without losing the design points and features you’ve been looking for.
If you hope to age in place and maintain your independence within your family home, know that there are ways to build your new custom home that still look beautiful, but ensure your continued safety for years to come. If you’re not sure how to design a custom home that accommodates you as you age, know that you can talk to a professional home builder for design ideas and inspiration.
If you’re interested in building a new custom home that reflects your personal style, but also helps you maintain your independence as you age, know that Whitmore Custom Homes is here to help. We’ve worked with many West Michigan residents to build custom homes that will serve them throughout their golden years, and we can work with you to ensure your new home achieves the design and style you love, in a way that’s safe and secure for the decades to come.
For more information on building your home for aging in place, give Whitmore Custom Homes a call at 616-446-3482 or contact us online today!