As the years pass by and retirement approaches, the concept of home takes on new significance. Whether you build your dream home while nearing retirement age, or whether you do it while younger but want to build a home where you can age in place, designing a living space that caters to the changing needs and preferences of seniors is a top priority. Whether it’s ensuring accessibility, enhancing safety, or fostering a sense of comfort and independence, building a home with retirement in mind requires thoughtful planning and consideration.
Here are the factors to consider when building a retirement home.
1. Embracing accessibility and safety
At the forefront of designing a retirement-ready home is the notion of accessibility. The aim is to create an environment that enables you to navigate your living space with ease and confidence. Opting for a single-level living arrangement, such as a bungalow, eliminates the hindrance of stairs and minimises the risk of falls. This layout promotes seamless movement and facilitates an unobstructed flow throughout the house.
2. Creating a second master bedroom
In case your ideal dream home is a maisonette with one or more floors, consider the inclusion of a large en suite guest room on the ground floor. This versatile space can be transformed into a master bedroom as mobility diminishes over time. By strategically placing the master suite on the main level, you can avoid the challenges posed by stairs and enjoy the convenience of everything you need being easily accessible.
3. Thoughtful bathroom modifications
Bathrooms are one of the most important areas to address when designing a retirement-friendly home. Installing a spacious and wheelchair-accessible bathroom on the main level ensures independence and safety. Incorporating features such as grab bars, walk-in showers with built-in benches and raised toilets guarantees comfort and accommodates potential mobility challenges. While some of these features such as grab bars and benches might not be needed in your younger years, design your home such that they can be installed later.
4. The power of an open floor plan
An open floor plan is not only aesthetically pleasing but also highly functional for retirees. By eliminating unnecessary barriers and tight spaces, an open layout offers unrestricted movement, allowing you to navigate your home with ease, even with mobility aids. It also promotes social interaction and enhances a sense of connection within the living space.
5. Striking the balance: Maintenance and durability
In the pursuit of creating a retirement-friendly home, practicality and durability should not be overlooked. Opt for low-maintenance materials and finishes that withstand the test of time. Durable flooring, easy-to-clean surfaces, and energy-efficient appliances are essential components that reduce the need for constant upkeep, allowing retirees to focus on enjoying their well-deserved leisure time without using too many resources on home maintenance.
6. Illuminate with purpose
Proper lighting plays a crucial role in ensuring safety and enhancing the overall ambiance of a retirement-ready home. Maximising natural light through large windows and skylights not only saves energy but also promotes a cheerful and uplifting atmosphere. Strategically placed task lighting, along with motion-sensor lights, illuminates the space effectively, reducing the risk of accidents and enhancing visual clarity for older individuals. It is also important to note that in cooler climates where large windows may pose some cold challenges, insulated glass can help counter this effect.
7. The great outdoors: Nurturing nature’s serenity
A well-designed retirement home should extend its benefits to the outdoors as well. Create an accessible and inviting outdoor space, thoughtfully incorporating features that allows you to enjoy nature comfortably. Level pathways, non-slip surfaces, and ample lighting facilitate safe movement outdoors. Raised garden beds can also offer you opportunities to continue pursuing your love for gardening and keep you engaged, even if bending becomes a challenge.
8. Embrace technology for enhanced independence
Technology has revolutionised the way we live, and its integration into your home can greatly enhance your independence and security. Implementing smart home technology, such as voice-activated controls, remote monitoring systems, and automated lighting, enables you to control their environment effortlessly, ensuring convenience and peace of mind. And while this can sound expensive if on a budget, you do not have to necessarily break your bank account as there are affordable options and go-arounds.
Smart plugs and power strips for instance, are affordable and easy-to-use devices that can turn any electrical outlet into a smart outlet, and allow you to control and schedule the power supply to your devices using a smartphone app or voice commands. You can turn off appliances remotely, set timers, and even monitor energy usage, promoting energy efficiency.
9. Location matters: The community connection
While location is always very important in real estate, proximity to essential amenities becomes more important as we age and mobility is reduced. Access to healthcare facilities, recreational activities, shopping centres, and other public amenities is important.