Whether you’ve spent your time raising kids, building a business, or climbing the corporate ladder, it’s amazing how quickly the day comes when you wake up with a start and think, “Whoa...how did we get here?”
For a lot of homeowners, that wake-up call is when they start thinking about what life’s next phase is going to look like. That’s when many of us start making plans for how we can maximize the value of our homes, while reducing the burden of maintenance.
“Aging in place” is the concept of staying in your home and planning ahead so that you’re able to live independently as you age. Many of today’s homeowners are designing their homes to accommodate this transition and we’ve put together a few strategies for planning this next stage of homeownership.
A Look You’ll Always Love
According to AARP, most people (as many as 90%) over the age of 65 want to live in their home as long as possible.
If you’re considering a remodel to modify your home’s structure, you’ll want to be sure to use materials that you’ll still love in the years to come. Choosing trendy new designs can give your home a fresh look, but doesn’t mean you’ll have the same taste a few years down the line.
But you don't need to choose boring, traditional colors—balance classic appeal with your own personal taste, ensuring you’ll be happy in your space, no matter what’s trending.
There are some good rules-of-thumb when considering materials and products for your home.
The harder it is to replace a fixture, the more timeless it should be.
We all know how popular brightly-colored bathtubs, bathroom sinks and toilets were in the 1960’s and 70’s. But how many homes are now stuck with them due to the work involved in replacing them?
Think basic and timeless when it comes to things like counter tops, flooring, cabinets and bathroom fixtures. Save trendiness for light fixtures, paint colors and furniture that can be more easily replaced.
When planning for the future, you’ll want to make sure your home will stand up to the elements over time. This means choosing materials for your home that require less maintenance and stand up to wear and tear over the years. Quartz countertops offer versatility to any interior design, and manufacturers offer a warranty of 10-15 years on this durable material.
Opt for minimal maintenance.
Part of aging in place is taking into account how much work you’ll want to put into keeping your home feeling clean and cozy. Select shower stalls with built-in antibacterial protection and install kitchen and bathroom surfaces that are easier to clean.
Find products that encourage sustainability and healthier living.
We all want to ensure the products we choose for our homes fit our personal style, but are environmentally responsible as well. These kinds of products can bring tax benefits and can be highly cost-efficient. A product like steel siding provides insulation which can help to make a big dent in your utility bills.
Use automated systems and sensors throughout the home to regulate air flow and temperature.
The National Association of Home Builders recommends mechanical fresh air ventilation and the installation of air returns in all bedrooms. Install automated thermostats to keep the home’s temperature and humidity regulated.
Pay attention to product warranties.
When you choose appliances and materials for you home, you’ll want to consider the warranty of these products—not all warranties are created equal. Pay close attention to details like:
- Length of the warranty
- Details of what the warranty covers
- How covered damages will be handled (repair, full replacement, labor, etc.)
- Homeowner actions that could invalidate the warranty
You can tackle the process of modifying your home for aging in place by reviewing the different areas and systems of your current home. Plan ahead and do a walk-through in these different areas, making note of where you might make updates. (Check out our article on when you should start planning your remodel for further tips on updating your home.)
- Choose a low-maintenance exterior material like steel siding or vinyl panels
- Plant landscaping with shrubs and plants that require little upkeep
- Consider low-maintenance gutter systems that require minimal cleaning
- Make sure your main living area is on a single floor and includes a full bathroom
- Allow plenty of clearance in rooms and hallways to accommodate the use of walkers or wheelchairs
- At least one entryway should have no steps and be covered
- Make sure there are plenty of windows throughout your home, for lots of natural light
Appliances and Hardware
- Choose energy-efficient products to save on costs
- Choose products that enhance the air quality in your home
- Install plenty of lighting throughout the home, especially hallways and near entryways
- Make sure surfaces are slip-resistant
- Choose lower-density area rugs
Aging is inevitable. But by planning early, you can help ensure that you and your loved ones live comfortably and independently. With careful consideration and the right mindset, you’ll ensure that the transition is a smooth one, both for you and your family.