Canadians are increasingly hearing about a phrase that could shift how they view home designs – “aging in place.” The point of this concept is to spend your golden years in your family home rather than a seniors’ home or assisted living facility.
People change as they get older, and your house may also need to evolve. A health-care professional like an occupational therapist (OT) can assess your needs and help with the appropriate modifications, so you can keep living independently in your home.
Here are some tips that can help you stay home safely.
A grand entrance
Aging in place starts with an accessible entrance. Ideally, you’ll have a well-lit front door flush with the walkway leading to it. If there are stairs, securely fasten railings on both sides. Consider what changes would be needed to install a ramp.
If you’re planning renovations, make it easier to age in place by considering some minor add-ons. Door replacements should be at least 36 inches (90 centimetres) wide to allow wheelchair or walker access if needed.
A new shower should have no curb for unimpeded access, and consider a bidet for a hygienic, hands-free alternative to a traditional toilet.
Lever-style handles on faucets are easier to operate than ones you must grab. Better yet, install motion- or voice-activated ones. They’re convenient for rinsing germy hands during meal preparations, and they’re a pain-free option if arthritis becomes an issue later in life.
Sufficient lighting is essential to help with fading eyesight. Install plenty of lighting in the kitchen for safely chopping food and other tasks. Smart-home systems make it easy to control the lights and can be voice-activated, so you don’t have to walk into a dark room and risk tripping.
If you’re working with an OT, you can learn what to expect and confirm their registration through the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario at coto.org/ot.