Many people feel that they should downsize because their home is too big or unsuitable especially once the children have left home. However, with some foresight and decision-making, you could create a home that will grow with you as you get older.
If you’re worried about having to downsize in the future, there are ways to adapt your current home in order to make sure it’s suitable for when you’re older. This could impact the decision you make with your next move – instead of looking at a particular type of property i.e. a bungalow or flat, you could find a home you love and make some changes now so that it can be your forever home.
It’s sensible to have a flexible downstairs space that can be used as an additional reception room but easily converted to a bedroom when climbing stairs becomes difficult. If you have a suitable garage or outbuilding, you could convert this to an annexe which could be let out now but turned into accommodation later on for a carer – which could be cheaper than a nursing home.
Take a good look at your home and consider how it will work in the future. Doorways and corridors need to be wide enough for a wheelchair. Look at how you can create or adapt a downstairs bathroom and consider where a stairlift could be fitted.
Move sockets higher so they are easy to access and look at where grab rails can be installed in the bathroom.
It’s important to maximise the natural light in your home as people over 65 spend a much larger proportion of time in their home. Remove net curtains and heavy drapes and use blinds to reduce glare. As you age you will require increased light, so look at increasing the number of lights in your home. Consider replacing a ceiling light with spotlights and flexible lamps for reading.
Just because you are future proofing your home, doesn’t mean you are sacrificing how it looks. Use contrasting colours and tones to identify key features and create lines of sight that will help with the navigation through the property; artwork and furniture can also improve orientation. Go for neutral carpets with a clear definition between floors and walls – small patterns can be confusing for dementia sufferers.
Use suitable non-slip flooring in kitchens and bathrooms such as textured luxury vinyl or rubber flooring, or specialist floors that can be fitted over underfloor heating. Avoid rugs as these can be a trip hazard so consider wall-to-wall fitted carpets.
Technology can really improve your quality of life. There are apps connected to phones, watches and jewellery to call for help so it’s worth being aware of what’s available. You can install video doorbells to enhance security, CCTV where you can speak to visitors approaching the house and touchless taps to help those with arthritis and people who may leave taps running. You could also consider installing a key box so that other people can access your property should they need to.
Invest in lightweight, long-handled tools to prevent bending down and raised flower beds for ease. Make sure the garden is easy access and all on the same level if mobility is an issue in the future. Low maintenance gardens don’t have to be dull! Encourage activity from birds and bees and think about bright, vibrant colours.
If you don’t want to worry about rocketing heating bills, make sure your home is properly insulated and your heating is in working order. Solar panels and biomass boilers can keep the heating bills down.