Future-proofing your home means making adaptations to your living space now so that it will be the best possible environment for you as you grow older. These changes to the home might take into account possible future mobility needs, visual or audio impairments, or might just generally make the home a safer place.
However, future-proofing is not about filling your home with medical looking devices and ugly alterations. With fantastically designed technology and cleverly thought out solutions by choosing the right products, future-proofing your home now can give you a desirable home that provides for all your creature comforts, and lets you live in luxury.
Go state-of-the-art in the kitchen
As the heart of the home, the kitchen invariably gets the most use of all the rooms in a house. When refitting the kitchen there are many stylish upgrades available – be it décor or gadgets – many of which not only provide a sense of luxury now, but in their nature will help to future-proof your home.
The kitchen can be a room that is full of hazards for someone who has mobility difficulties, or is visually or hearing impaired. Thankfully with careful planning and thought the kitchen can be made much safer without appearing any different from any other kitchen.
As well as top range appliances such as boiling water taps, coffee machines and slow cookers, all designed to make the kitchen less of an effort and a safer place, consider the basics of the kitchen layout. Look at the positioning of the main task areas including sink, hob, cooker, and fridge which should be in a triangle shape.
Also think about the heights of the appliances and aim to have microwaves and ovens installed at a counter height to minimize the amount of bending and stretching needed to access them. If the cupboards are deep, pull-out racks or even drawers can be installed rather than shelves to make sure you can get to the items at the back of the cupboard with ease. These adaptations are common sense and will allow your kitchen to work best for people of any age.
When looking at the décor, think about lighting. Not only can adaptable lighting create a room with a luxury feel but it can also help people in older age if used well. Make sure that there is plenty of bright task-lighting above high use areas, with pendant lights for example, for activities like chopping food, as well as more ambient lighting to make sure floors are clearly visible.
Give the backyard an indulgent air
The backyard is often the sanctuary of the home, especially in the summer, which can be the perfect place to relax. All too often however, older people find with the onset of mobility issues the outside space is no longer accessible to them with uneven surfaces, high steps, or gardens that are too hard to reach.
However, making some small changes now can ensure that you can continue to enjoy your backyard no matter what. Consider replacing steps with smooth ramps, perhaps adding a hand rail for extra support.
If the flowers and plants are low level, introduce raised beds to ensure that they can be tended from sitting-height, saving the stress on the back and knee joints. Pots are also a good addition to the garden for this reason. To save the constant need for watering, automated home irrigation systems can be put in, so that the plants are kept hydrated no matter what the weather.
Many people are turning to artificial lawns to give them the same effect as a lawn but without the maintenance issues but if you love the look and feel of real grass, robot lawn mowers are becoming more popular.
A bit of luxury in the bathroom
The bathroom is another space where you can future-proof with a bit of luxury. Like the kitchen a bathroom is high-use, and also full of potential hazards for older people if not well designed.
The greater risks are generally around the mobility needed to get in and out of the bath or shower and the danger of slipping. There are a number of different styles of bath on the market designed for older people including walk-in baths with fully seal-able doors where once the door is shut the bath can be filled as normal. Some of these even have a reclined seat shape built in or in more compact versions the seat is almost fully upright. For a more luxury appeal, a Jacuzzi bath might be a good option for soaking away aches and pains, and some come with atmospheric lights which can be adjusted to suit the mood.
If a shower is preferred there are tricks to make shower enclosures more suitable for older people. Shower trays can now be made to be flush with the floor to allow for access either in a wheelchair or walker. Shower seats are widely available to give more stability while washing and can be removable or attached to the wall to save space.
Although grab rails are a good option for older bathroom users, a more stylish and discreet option can be cleverly placed shelving and furniture which can be used as secure grab rails but don’t look like them, and non-slip floors to help minimize the risk of slipping.
Invest in the ultimate luxury item – a home elevator
One of the biggest difficulties that many older people face is the stairs. Concerns with hips, knees, energy levels and dizziness are just some of the reasons that many older people cite as stopping them from being able to manage the stairs as they used to. This can lead to the whole of the upstairs becoming inaccessible, and can be extremely limiting.
But new technology in the home elevator industry, such as residential elevators by Lifton are now one of the most dynamic, stylish and high-tech pieces of equipment that can be added to the home. As a feature that can be used by everyone and can add value to the home, many are doing so long before it is an absolute necessity.
The modern generation of sleek and discreet home elevators can be housed in various locations around the home, hidden away from closet to closet, but often in pride of place in the hall or main living space.
Installing a residential elevator well before your mobility needs it will benefit you and your home by adding convenience, luxury and ease to your lifestyle.