No one likes the word “aging.” We’re fitter than our parents or grandparents were at this point in their lives, and even in our 50s and 60s, we’d rather not think of ourselves as aging. Nevertheless, our bodies sometimes remind us that they could use some extra TLC and our homes need to be re-imagined if we plan on staying in them indefinitely.
The good news is that there’s such a thing as aging in place, in which accessible or inclusive design can improve your home’s value along with its livability. Demand for these features is growing, especially in the home’s most valuable square footage: the kitchen and master bath. Some can be added without remodeling, building or moving to a new place.
Here are 10 to consider for your home.
In the Kitchen
If you are remodeling, building (or just home shopping), consider more ergonomic wall ovens and cooktops instead of a range, space allowing. French door ovens are especially helpful if a sports injury lands you in a wheelchair for a while.
Replace standard base cabinet shelves with roll-outs and install swing-out accessories in blind corner cabinets. These will save your back a good deal of stress.
Get a cushioned anti-fatigue mat to put in front of the spot at which you stand the longest in your kitchen, or redesign it as a seated workspace. Your feet and joints will thank you, especially if you have tile floors.
Add under-cabinet lighting to illuminate your countertops so you can more easily see what you’re prepping. LEDs won’t heat up your hands uncomfortably.
If you’re open to tweaking your cooking style, consider a convection-steam oven in place of a microwave and an induction cooktop in place of a gas or electric model. The first is a far healthier cooking method. The second makes cleanup a breeze.
In the Bathroom
Replace your builder grade vent fan with a quieter, humidity-sensing model. You won’t have to worry about forgetting to turn it on or off and you’ll be able to carry on an actual conversation while it’s doing its job.
Improve the lighting in your bathroom with an energy efficient fixture that offers more bulbs, which will help you read the labels on your supplements and prescriptions more easily.
Replace a fixed showerhead with a hand-held model, ideally one with a massage setting. After 18 holes or 18 miles on the bike, your muscles will thank you.
Add a shower seat ― in teak or stainless ― if there isn’t a built-in bench.
If you have a tub already, add a designer-style grab bar that coordinates with your shower set and other bathroom finishes so that it looks more resort spa than rehab hospital suite – and make sure it doesn’t need blocking if you’re not remodeling.
Jamie Gold, CKD, CAPS is a San Diego-based Certified Kitchen Designer and Certified Aging in Place Specialist. She is the author of the New Bathroom Idea Book (Taunton Press, 2017) and the Gold Notes design blog at jgkitchens.com.