Use Smart-aging design ideas for safer living in your own home for as long as possible. Your own personal needs and preferences must be taken into consideration while incorporating basic construction and design elements that enable comfortable and safe living in your home.
Consider the following principles:
- Your home should be barrier-free, to accommodate current and future mobility aids such as walkers, canes, wheelchairs, etc.; and
- Physical support structures and safety systems like grab bars, in possible hazard areas with slippery floors, low lighted places, and stairs; and
- Indoor and outdoor lighting installed to illuminate dark corners and cut down on seasonal affective disorder (SAD); and
- Use a “Minimal Effort Test” to determine what things require manual operation and physical exertion; perhaps changing to lever handles in place of door knobs and sink faucets; and
- Color should be considered for aesthetics and functionality, for instance using contrasting colors on the edges of furniture, the risers of stairs, or grab bars can add warmth and better visibility.
Before you get started, evaluate your current home, keeping in mind your life style, your current and future needs, and most importantly your budget.
For very little money you can improve your home lighting by buying automatic night-lights that are energy efficient, or by installing wrought iron railings on outside stairs, or installing non-slip flooring in your bathroom, or a colorful grab bar in the shower. Designing for a lifetime is not about spending money, it is about thinking through the most important changes that need to be made in your home to allow you the maximum comfort and the highest degree of safety.
The more common over 65 age group medical conditions are arthritis, heart disease, and vision loss. If you have trouble standing for extended periods of time, consider changes that would let you work in the kitchen, bathroom, or other areas of your home while seated. It could change your outlook on life because independence and the ability to take care of one’s self at any age are key determinants in aging with your dignity intact.