Future-proofing is when homeowners make adjustments to their home now, ready for when they are in their senior years, enabling them to ‘age in place’ in the family home. Although it can seem a strange concept to make changes to the home before you need them, many say that by preparing for older age, they remove the worry when they start to lose their mobility, or have health issues. When you are feeling poorly, having work done in the home is the last thing you want to be thinking of. In addition to this, often future-proofing the home simply makes it safer and better thought through, so the benefits can be enjoyed by all members of the household, no matter what their age.
Accessibility is the first, and possibly the most important, thing to think about when future-proofing the home. Consider the entry ways into the home; any steps or high thresholds should be converted to ramps to make it possible to access for those in wheelchairs, or who have difficulty walking or who have a visual impairment. Likewise, doorways need to be made wide enough for a wheelchair, and special attention needs to be given to the staircases of the home.
The stairs are cited as one of the biggest problems for older people in their own homes, and one of the most popular future-proofing solutions to this is to install a new-generation home elevator. Sleek and compact, modern home elevators can fit almost anywhere within the home and unlike ugly and bulky stair lifts, rather than get in the way when not in use, a home elevator can work hard for the whole family long before it is needed for mobility reasons.
- Safety in the bathroom
Bathrooms are full of hazards for older and infirm people as well as younger people, and it can be a costly task to refit a bathroom, it is very worthwhile making simple future-proofing adjustments when remodelling this space. The biggest risk in the bathroom is slipping and tripping when manoeuvring around the space, so grab handles are a great addition to improve safety. Think about installing flooring which is non-slip even when wet. A neat pull-down seat in the shower is also a smart way to keep showering safer too.
- A hazard-free kitchen
Another room where the majority of at-home accidents occur is the kitchen. Along with possible slips, the kitchen is the home to knives, hot surfaces, bending and lifting and hot water scalds. Consider the many brilliant appliances which reduce the potential for hazards. Induction hobs, for example mean that there is not a hot surface after cooking. Also look at lighting. As well as making your kitchen homey and bright, having good task lighting on surfaces will benefit those with poorer eyesight and make chopping and cutting jobs safer. Having the main appliances at waist height also helps with moving hot dishes around the kitchen safely, as well as making it possible for seniors with mobility struggles.
- Safe walkways
As well as widening doorways, it is a good idea to look at the walkways within the home. Clear, flat, uncluttered and brightly lit halls will help to reduce the risk of trips and falls. When future-proofing the home, it might not be obvious to think about good built-in storage, but if this helps to reduce clutter on the floor and furniture legs to trip over, it will be a great win in the future.
- Plan for impairments
No one truly knows what they will need in their senior years, or what their health will be like. However, sometimes we have clues to help us plan. Often thinking about how our own parents or grandparents were in their later years might offer some genetic clues, or if we have a diagnosis for a condition which may bring health issues as we age.
If visual impairment or hearing impairment is of concern, make plans now to install specific equipment which can help.