How to … modify your home so you can grow old there

If you plan on retiring in your own home, there are some things you should know about the changes you should make.

How to … modify your home so you can grow old there

While growing old is a privilege, there’s no denying that it’s also a challenge. Many people choose to face these challenges in the comfort of their own home. Preparing your home for the future is an important process to ensure that your home is safe and welcoming for you and your loved ones.

There are a range of reasons people may choose to stay in their own homes. From comfort, location, proximity to friends and family, financial suitability or being unable to afford to move elsewhere.

In the 2015 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC), 50.7 per cent of Aussies aged 65 and over reported living with a disability. For this reason, when planning your retirement, it’s important to factor in the possibility that you or a loved one may be living with a disability.

Sixty-two per cent of all slips and falls occur within the family home, costing $1.8 billion in public health costs each year. According to the Liveable House Design Guidelines, including key liveable housing design features is 22 times more efficient than retrofitting when the need arises. If you’re currently planning on building or renovating a property, keep in mind how much cheaper it is to incorporate these design needs early on.

When it comes to accessibility, people often think of removing stairs and putting handrails in the shower. Yet many don’t consider whether the angles in their hallway are too sharp to permit a wheelchair user through them, or about the height of their kitchen bench.

Australian guidelines specify these key points for inclusive houses. Firstly, a continuous, step free, level path leading to an entrance from the street or parking area. Secondly, internal doors and corridors that allow unimpeded and comfortable movement between spaces. An easily accessible toilet on the ground (or entry) level. A bathroom with step-free shower recess. Reinforced walls around the toilet, shower and bath, to allow the safe installation of grab rails. And finally, any stairway with a rise of more than one metre should be accompanied by a continuous handrail on one side.

These are the Habitat for Humanity International’s Key Accessibility Features:

Single-storey home
104cm wide hallways and stairways, with double handrails on stairways
Smooth, durable flooring
91.5cm wide doorways in the interior and exterior of the home
Zero-step entry from the porch, the front door, and the garage
Zero-step entry into the shower
152.4cm wide circular area in the kitchen, laundry area and bathroom
Electrical outlets that are 45 to 61cm above the floor
Rocker-style light switches
Lever-style door and tap handles
Accessible storage.

To begin the process of making these inclusive changes, measure the width of your hallways, doorways, and the distance of your power outlets from the floor. Compare the layout of your home to the guidelines above. Note what changes may need to be made or included in future works. If you have the means, consult a trusted builder or installer to inquire on pricing.

Is your home accessible? What measures will you be making to prepare your home so that you can continue to live in it?

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    To make a comment, please register or login
    3rd May 2020
    I use small movement sensing battery powered lights around the house. They light up an area before I get to turn the light on. Have them on the floor. I also lashed out and bought a bidet seat for my toilet, just the seat. Can operate it from a small panel on the wall. Delighted with it
    3rd May 2020
    Pray tell, what is a bidet seat, as bidets do not have seats?
    Winston Smith
    3rd May 2020
    Sceptic - There are special "seats" that effectively turn a normal toilet into a bidet.
    3rd May 2020
    Winston is correct, the Bidet seat replaces the existing toilet seat. The Bidet seat itelf is heated, plays music, has flashing lights and a scent maker, it shoots out lovely warm filtered water at just the right spot (adjustable) followed by a nice jet of warm air (all while the music is playing) So there, cop that.
    3rd May 2020
    Hi Milker, we also have a retrofit bidet seat. One of the best investments we have recently made (along with the turbo fan extracting odours direct from the toilet bowl to the outside). How luxurious to have a warm seat and a jet of warm water in lieu of toilet paper. Highly recommend, especially if you take the advice in another article about preparing your home for retirement. All you need extra is a power point in your toilet.
    3rd May 2020
    Hope your bidet seats were properly plumbed in with non-return valves, or you could get water from the toilet coming out of your taps.
    Winston Smith
    3rd May 2020
    What gets me is why the house in the pic above ever had steps to the front door to begin with. The ramp takes up less space! Architects are obsessed with stairs. They need a new mindset.

    Tags: how to, home, age,

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