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How To Plan A User-Friendly House For Older People

Updated on October 3, 2012

Comfortable and Safe Living Ideas For The Aged

Let's face it, the things we older people used to do easily, can't be done easily any more. Simple tasks we once took for granted, take some extra effort now. We now seek the path of least resistance for every household chore we undertake.

After retiring, many people relocate. They might build a new house or purchase one already established. Though at 60 it might seem a bit premature, not to mention unpleasant, to think of your life at 80, there are some things to take into consideration when moving into a new home.

Because our capabilities might be more limited ten or twenty years from now, it might be wise to design or even remodel a house to be more user-friendly.

Do not buy a house with stairs. The steps you can easily climb at 60, won't be so easily managed at 80 and the second floor might become totally inaccessible. For the steps leading into the house, allow for a larger area. Provide for a space large enough to allow for wider steps and lower rises. A 6" rise can be a whole lot more comfortable on the knees than a 10" rise. Sure footing is crucial and becomes a real matter of concern as we age.

Though hardwood floors are beautiful, they can be treacherous for older people. Shiny can mean slippery and throw rugs are an accident waiting to happen. Wall-to-wall carpeting is safer and provides warmth for cold feet.

Because joints become stiff and are prone to get arthritis, turning door knobs can become a painful task. It's much easier to push on a door lever. Consider these for interior and exterior doors.

For older people, falling is a common accident that can occur while bathing. Tubs and showers are not typically designed with safety features they need. Walk-in bath tubs are user-friendly and provide for a much safer and comfortable experience. Low level entry, comfortable seats and back rests and non-slip surfaces can make bathing safer. They also provide enough depth of water to soothe aching muscles.

Larger, more open rooms are also a good idea. Multi-purpose rooms and open spaces mean easier flow and less corners and doorknobs to turn.

Because bruising becomes a part of life and can be a serious problem for the aged, consider rounded corners for furniture. Coffee tables can be a real hazard with their sharp corners. Also, less might be better. Cutting down on the number of furniture pieces can make for easier maneuvering.

My mother-in-law used to say, "I don't keep house anymore, it keeps me." The later years of our life can be wonderful, but we can make choices that help them remain high quality for a lot longer if we plan ahead for safety and comfort in the house that keeps us.

Grow old with me the best is yet to come. -Robert Browning-

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