Features for Comfortably Aging at Home

Retirement house plans allow active retired couples to enjoy their home now, aging at home as they advance in years, and disabled persons to live at home independently.

Universal design features are becoming more common in retirement homes for baby boomers and others who intend to stay in their homes as long as possible.

Let’s face it. We all are going to get older, sooner or later. And no one looks forward to the time when they have to leave their home to go into an assisted care facility.  This often is because people can’t move around independently and take care of themselves at home.

There is, of course, an answer.

Save Money with Smart Retirement House Plans

If you are building a new log home or adding an addition to your existing home, you can incorporate some universal design features into your home.  Well thought out retirement house plans will allow you to stay in your home easily, for many extra years.

Building these features into a new home, is very inexpensive.

On the other hand, to remodel your home later, to make it disability friendly, is much more difficult and will be a major expense.

Universal design products and features make it easy for anyone–young, old, disabled or not–to live easily in your home. And they do not make your home look different or odd.

retirement home shower

A shower in your retirement home should have a low curb and may also have a built-in seat or room to place a shower seat. This one is 5 feet wide.

In some cases, it may not be possible to make the changes necessary for a person to stay in his home after the home is built.

Rather than face the prospect of long term care later in life, why not consider incorporating aging in place features into your retirement house plans, so that you can enjoy it for many more years to come?

Aging in Home Features in Your Retirement House Plans

If your home is handicap-accessible, it will be comfortable for everyone—young people, aging couples and even visiting senior parents. And when a young athlete has an injury or a middle aged person starts to feel the effects of arthritis, life will go on as usual.

These features make it possible for anyone to visit or live in your home:

  • One floor living – with first floor master bedroom and bath, laundry room and pantry. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have a basement or a second floor—just that you could live on only one floor, without having to negotiate stairs.
  • Wheelchair accessible – The first floor should also be wheelchair accessible, meaning that doorways are 36” wide, halls are 42” wide and the kitchen allows space for a walker or a wheelchair. It’s also nice when you are carrying a basket load of laundry to the Master Bedroom from the laundry room.
  • Finnish sauna – This is a luxury that you seldom find in a smaller retirement home. I recommend that you incorporate this into your plans, if your budget allows it. Luxuriate in the warmth of the sauna after a day of sailing or working in the garden. And it will ease those sore muscles.
    3 foot wide doors in retirement home

    An empty nester house should include features like wider doors and hallways in their retirement house plans.

  • Step-in low curb shower – allowing people with limited leg motion to shower. I remember breaking my ankle about 15 years ago, on a trampoline. For weeks I struggled to shower in a standard shower stall, with a plastic trash bag on my leg, holding my ankle up in the air.  Life doesn’t have to be this comical! Consider a 5’ wide shower (the same size as a bathtub) with a molded seat, a grab bar and a hand held shower head for easy bathing (and to make shower cleaning easy). You might also consider a custom tile curbless shower, which is also quite fashionable.
  • Doorway Openings – Doorways openings are all 36”, allowing easy access for wheelchairs, walkers, or a person on crutches.
  • Lever Door Handles – Lever door handles are easy to open, especially for people who have arthritis or weak muscles. Quality Schlage brushed nickel lever door handles were installed throughout.
  • Handrails on both sides of stairs – often included in universal design house plans so that a person going up or down the stairs has plenty of support, on either side. This also gives you support when you are carrying an object up or down the stairs.
  • Hard surface floors in the common areas – makes it easier for crutches, wheelchairs and walkers. And, older people with less strength or poor balance are less likely to fall.
    Slide out trays for cabinets

    Slide out trays help an older person access items without getting down onto the floor.  Slide out shelves make it easier to access everything in your kitchen! Consider features like this for your retirement house plans.

  • Kitchen cabinet pull-out racks – Nothing is worse than crawling on the floor (and pulling everything out of the cabinet) to get something in the back of the cabinet. Most people, at some point, just disregard anything that is so difficult to reach, so they never eat it if it’s food, and they never use it if it’s a cooking tool. Pull out racks make it easy to access everything in your cupboards, even from a wheelchair.
  • Whirlpool jetted bathtub – If you love to soak your aches and pains (and stressors) away, consider a whirlpool jetted bathtub. This is not essential for aging in place, but it is a nice feature.
  • Counter surfacesMake sure you have counter space close to the refrigerator, oven and microwave, so that if you have poor balance or weak muscles, you can set items on the counter.
  • Kohler Comfort height toilets – taller than standard size, these toilets are easy on knees and hips.
  • Hard-wired smoke detectors – just in case you’re one of those people who forget to change the batteries.
  • Programmable thermostat – just set it and let it do its work to keep you comfortable.
  • Accessibility from the exterior – This makes it easy to add a ramp, if you ever need it. You should have only one or two steps. This eliminates the need for a long ramp that takes up half the yard and is very obvious from the outside.
  • Easy to Maintain – Consider making your home as maintenance free as possible, both inside and outside. If you are going to be retired, you want to spend most of your time having fun—not maintaining your home!
  • House Size – Last, but not least, this is the time to downsize. Why clean and maintain a large house when you only use a few rooms in it? You no longer need rooms for each of your children. If you have a guest room or two, use them for other activities, like sewing or an office.