When building a custom home, we often ask people how long they plan to stay in the home. If it’s a forever home that implies that the homeowners plan on retiring here. We’d love for clients to love their homes for that long, but often people forget to think about how home needs change once you become older. So if you’re building and plan on aging in your home, or think that you’ll take in an older relative one day, here are a few simple ways to make your home accessible for people of all ages.
1. Smart Flooring Options
As you get older your balance and eyesight tend to go. This can lead to seniors tripping and falling more often. Smart flooring options can decrease the chance of that happening, and help soften the impact if it does. Have as few flooring transitions as possible. Older people tend to shuffle their feet, and transitions are tripping hazards. Carpet can also make it difficult to shuffle, but it will also soften the fall. Tile is not recommended for the elderly, as it’s slippery and hard.
2. Wide Doorways
Think about your doorways when building. Seniors could potentially need wheelchairs or walkers, which may be too wide to fit through standard sized doors. Widen your doorways a little, or include double doors when possible. Even if you never need them, wider doorways make a home feel more luxurious and open-concept.
3. Handicap Accessible Bathrooms
Again, it’s a smart idea to make sure there is at least one full bathroom that is handicap accessible. Having it on the first floor is a good idea too. Make sure it’s wide enough for a wheelchair to maneuver. The shower should also be curbless and possibly contain a shower seat. Handlebars around the toilet and shower are also great for extra stability.
4. Fewer Steps
If you’re building a custom home in Toronto, building up is usually required to get everything you want in a home since lot sizes tend to be smaller. But try to include as few steps as possible. Avoid sunken rooms on the ground floor too.
5. Narrow Hallways
While having a nice spacious hallway might sound nice, seniors tend to prefer smaller narrow ones. They like to use their hands against the walls to stabilize themselves. While not every hallway needs to be small it’s something to consider.
6. Ground Floor Accommodations
Whether it’s a relative or yourself, having a ground floor suite for seniors is a good idea. It limits the number of steps they have to maneuver, and if there’s ever an emergency it’s easy to get them out. A ground floor ensuite can be used for guests, in-laws, or be your full-time master.
7. Handle Types
Even small things like door handles can be a problem for seniors. If they have arthritis or muscle weakness, round knobs can be difficult to manage. Try using lever handles instead, which are easy to use. The same goes for faucet handles.
8. More Lighting
Every home needs good lighting, but seniors really need light. It can be hard enough to see as it is. Make sure you install plenty of lighting in your home. It might even be a good idea to put in motion-sensor lights on the stairs or in the bathroom.
If you plan on loving your home forever, make sure your home loves you. Small simple elements including in your custom home design plan can make your home accessible to people of all ages. Ramps can be added at any point, but elements like flooring or wider doorways are better done from the beginning. To get started on building your dream custom home contact us today. We look forward to hearing from you!