What does home mean to you?
When you retire, one of the many questions you will need to consider is where you want to live. For some that may mean downsizing or moving to a different state to begin this new phase. For others, it may mean staying put and remaining at the place that built you and your family.
If you wish to stay in your home, odds are that there are many things that you’ll need to update and change in order to accommodate your health and wellbeing throughout retirement. Here’s a shortlist of home updates you might consider:
1. Improve Wheelchair Accessibility
At some point, many retirees are in need of a wheelchair whether recovering from a medical procedure or as part of their daily routine. To plan for this need, there are many ways to make your home wheelchair accessible.
One way you can do this is by updating your doors and doorways both in front and throughout your house. Doorways should be at least 36 inches, wide enough to fit many standard chairs. Having a wider doorway will improve the ease, comfort, and mobility of getting around your house.
Another great way to add accessibility into your home is to modify the stairs. By ensuring they are at least four feet wide and adding treds, you could set yourself up to include a chairlift at some point. Stairs are one of the least age-friendly aspects of a home and doing what you can to prevent a fall will help you stay healthy and comfortable longer. If you don’t want or need to install a chairlift right away, you can add handrails to both sides of the stairs to improve stability when walking up and down.
Bathrooms are one of the biggest areas in the house you may need to modify. For better wheelchair access, you can modify the height and width of the bathroom vanity to ensure that the chair can fit comfortably under it. Even if you aren’t in a wheelchair, it is a good idea to be able to have some seating in the bathroom while you are getting ready.
A concrete ramp to get in and out of your home is a great way to improve the functionality. It eliminates the need to use the stairs, providing you with a safer alternative.
2. Add Handrails
Falls are one of the most important accidents to try and prevent in retirement. They can lead to significant health problems which affect your budget and your lifestyle. One home improvement to help is the addition of handrails. Handrails are important as they provide support and mobility as you move around.
Handrails are especially important in the bathroom. You can add them near the toilet, shower, or anywhere that gets wet. Being extra cautious in the bathroom can make a big difference in your safety. You could even opt for installing a curbless shower which means that the shower does not have a lip or bump to step over to get in it. This option is much safer.
The kitchen is another place where handrails could come in handy. Installing them near the sink is a good idea for extra support when doing the dishes and also in case water gets on the ground. Remember, anyplace wet you should have additional support.
3. Better Lighting
As you age, your eyes have to work harder to see. You can make it easier for yourself by installing both more, and better lighting in your home. A well-lit house will not only increase your ability to see it will also help prevent accidents and improve your ease of mobility.
4. Change The Knobs
Most houses have traditional round knobs on doors and cabinets, but these can be difficult for many retirees to navigate. If you have arthritis or other injuries, twisting a knob can actually be difficult or painful. You can prevent this by switching out round knobs for lever-style hardware. This way, all you would need to do is pull down.
5. Update Appliances
Appliances are important for the ease and functionality of your house. One appliance that can be really tough for retirees is the washer and dryer. Traditionally, many washers and dryers are top load and require you to bend over to use them. This practice will not always age well and so you can switch to a front load washer and dryer and also have them installed on a pedestal so you won’t need to bend down to do laundry.
This same principle can be applied to the dishwasher in your kitchen. You can get a raised dishwasher to improve your ability to do the dishes without bending over so much.
Although you may not need all of these accessibility features when you first retire, it’s important to think ahead for what your future-self will need to live a fulfilling, safe, and happy life in your home. Plus, by starting early, you’ll be able to budget for these home updates over time rather than having to tackle them all at once. By being intentional with your improvements, you’ll be able to make your home livable for the long haul.