By Scott Rutherford
hen we’re in our younger years – and even well into middle-age – we don’t think much about the effect our age has on our home remodeling decisions. As we cross the line into retirement and step into our senior years, however, it’s a good idea to keep in mind that our needs are going to continually change as we move further into our golden years.
Most of us want to stay in our own homes as long as we can. To do that, it pays to start thinking about what sorts of changes we may need to make before we need to make them. If you are remodeling, beautifying, or making changes to your home anyway, it’s a good idea to consider how your needs may change over the next decade and beyond.
As an example, if you’re changing doors anyway, consider adding door mechanisms with levers instead of knobs. If you’re updating your lighting, consider rocker panels instead of smaller toggle switches. These things might not seem like a big deal now if you’re in good health and haven’t been hit too hard with arthritis, but down the road, they can make life simpler.
Many of today’s seniors even find it helpful to incorporate smart home features – features that can be controlled from a cell phone or tablet. Everything from lights to locks to alarm systems and household electronics can be controlled from a tablet these days.
If it’s time to upgrade the flooring, consider moving on from carpet and going with smooth flooring surfaces. There are lots of attractive linoleum options, and surfaces like rubber and cork are also becoming popular choices. While carpeting is attractive and soft, it can pose a tripping hazard and that’s doubly true of the better-quality high-pile carpets with extra padding that we typically install in high-end homes.
If you’re thinking about kitchen upgrades, make sure to consider what sorts of conveniences will make life easier down the road. Avoid placing cabinets or other design features above the stove. Instead, consider an island or peninsula, which can make meal prep easier. Islands with wheels are especially useful, as they can be moved if needed to accommodate mobility aids. You might not need that now, but the reality is that most of us will at some point.
These are just a few suggestions to consider. The main thing, regardless of what renovations you’re making, is to keep in mind the sorts of features you’re going to want in the years ahead.