If you’re about to remodel your home, you’re likely surrounded by people suggesting features to make your home worth more should you sell it. However, there’s always the chance that you won’t sell it, instead staying in the home for as long as you can. If you think that might be the case for you, then you need to look at how your practical needs will change as you get older and remodel to suit those needs, especially if you become disabled, start using a cane, develop balance issues, or develop other mobility and disability issues.
Luckily, a lot of the changes you should make are actually rather small and can be accomplished easily.
As you replace fixtures in your home, use solid, sturdy versions that won’t sag or break if you need to use them for support. Switch out flimsy towel bars for solid grab bars, and replace tiny side tables with ones that have open, supportive surface space. Remove loose shelves from walls; the type where the shelf just sits in a bracket and can move easily, with well-anchored shelving that won’t slip and move if you have to grab onto it to steady yourself. Anchor large bookcases to the wall to reduce the risk of them falling down on you if you bump into them.
Brakes on Casters
It’s a good idea to have furniture that you plan to move around a lot on casters so that you don’t have to try lifting or shoving the furniture as you get older. However, install brakes—essentially little levers that you flip down to lock and flip up to unlock—on the casters so that the furniture doesn’t roll away from you if you try to grab onto it. If you feel unsteady and have to lean against a table for a moment, for example, you won’t want that table suddenly rolling out from under you. The brakes should be large enough so that you can lock and unlock them with your feet or with the edge of a cane, rather than having to lean down to reach them.
Adequate Cabinet and Counter Space
There’s something to be said for being able to put away small appliances that you don’t use often. However, as you get older, rummaging through crowded cabinets and drawers will become annoying, if not frustrating. In addition to getting rid of items that you really don’t use, ensure you add enough cabinet space so that anything you put in the cabinets is easy to see. You might want to add pull-out racks to the cabinets to make getting items in back even easier. Also install enough counter space so that you can leave out those appliances you do use fairly often without creating a lot of countertop clutter.
Room to Move
You may want to look at knocking down walls between small rooms to create bigger spaces. This allows for better furniture placement so that you have nice, wide spaces in which to walk or in which to push back chairs so you can stand up from them. A small, cramped room may require you to wind your way past a lot of furniture obstacles; this isn’t so bad if your mobility is fine, but once you start needing something like a cane, or if you become unable to lift your legs to step over obstacles, you’ll wish you had a lot of extra space.
If you want more ideas for remodeling your home to make it more age-friendly, allowing you to live there for a very long time, talk to sellers of handicapped equipment and supplies like Alaska Mobility. They can tell you what they’ve seen in homes that has really worked for the occupants as they got older, and they can show you accessories that might also make like a lot easier for you down the road.