Because of it’s welcoming weather and many other amenities, the Naples area is an extremely popular place for people to retire. A lot of residents have arrived in the area early in their retirement years and enjoy the activities the region has to offer immensely. But what will happen in a few years?
According to a May 2017 article in Forbes Magazine, only one percent of U.S. homes are conducive to aging in place. At first glance, that may not seem to be such a big deal—until you consider that 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day, and more than 80 percent of people 65 and older indicate that they want to stay in their homes.
It’s one thing to say that you want to be able to live in your own home as long as possible, but it’s a different matter entirely to ensure that your home will accommodate your desire to live there for years to come.
So what are the essentials of creating a home that you can safely and comfortably enjoy for years to come? Let’s take a look at 8 aging in place features that are must-haves for your Naples home.
- Easy Access to the Home: Stairs may not be an issue for you at the moment. A few years from now, that may be a different story. One thing that makes a home safer and more comfortable and convenient as we age is having an entry without stairs. It may require a bit of thoughtful engineering, but installing a way to get into your home without having to negotiate stairs can be a really good thing. Part of that may include installing doorways with very low or no thresholds to reduce tripping potential.
- Wider Hallways: You may never need to negotiate your hallways with a wheelchair or a walker, but it’s smart to plan ahead. And even if you never need wider hallways for that reason, it still makes walking through them more pleasant.
- Leverage the Lever: In addition to their stylish good looks, lever-style door handles and faucet handles make it easier to open doors and turn the faucet off and on. Even much younger adults appreciate the ease of opening a door with a lever handle when they have their hands full. And, again, they look nice. It may be one reason you find levered handles in so many European homes.
- Automatic Motion-sensor Lights: Again, this isn’t just something that more mature adults can appreciate. Having foot lights that come on automatically is a really nice feature for anyone who has to get up in the middle of the night.
- Create a Comfortable Kitchen: No matter what your age, your kitchen will most likely continue to be the hub and heart of your home. But if you find it increasingly difficult to access upper cabinets in the kitchen, you might want to consider a redesign that puts more of your storage at a lower level—preferably with pull-out shelving that allows you to access items in the back of your cabinets easily. You may also want to consider shallower countertops to make regularly used items easier to reach. Another kitchen fixture to consider is a single-lever faucet can make your sink easier to use.
- Light Switch and Electrical Outlet Placement: Many universal design experts suggest putting light switches at a lower level to make them easier to access. Instead of conventional switches, consider installing rocker switches that are easier to activate. They also recommend installing electrical outlets at a higher level—for the same reason. And the thing about universal design is that it works well regardless of your age or physical condition. It’s not going to look or feel odd.
- Master on the Main: Today’s home buyers are increasingly looking for bedrooms on the main level. It doesn’t mean you can’t use an upper level when you want it (for guests or if you have an office you occasionally want to work in). But it allows you to take the stairs out of play for everyday living. If you have visitors (such as grandchildren) they can still use the upstairs bedrooms. That will probably include installing your master bathroom on the same level. And to make things even more convenient, you might want to look at building in a main level laundry room.
- Make a Comfortable Master Bath: Your bathroom is something you’ll use every day, and a few changes can make it more usable for longer. One thing to take a serious look at is to install a step-in shower that has no curb or lip to step over. Not only are these showers safer (for anybody), but they are also one of the big bathroom trends today. In fact, many showers being installed these days don’t even have doors! What many newer showers do have is built-in seating. Of course those features involve a bit of design and engineering, but it’s not all that unusual. If you still prefer baths to showers, you can also install a walk-in tub.
You can make your home a place that you’ll enjoy comfortably for many years to come. Of course, that doesn’t just happen—you have to plan for it. A good first step is to talk to a designer who can look at your existing floor plan and help you come up with a plan that’s both aesthetically pleasing and will meet any changing needs you anticipate.