Age and Accessibility Adaptations to your Home

'Future proofing' and adapting your home to prolong independent living in your own space.

A mother and daughter relaxing on a sofa in a home.

Once you’ve found your forever home, you want it to really be forever – but as we age, our accessibility requirements change, and the property you bought in your 30s, 40s or 50s may not be the right fit anymore. 
‘Future proofing’ and adapting your home to prolong independent living in your own space for as long as possible can be done – and they needn’t entirely change the structure of a house. 
Indeed even if accessibility requirements aren’t currently a concern, they could be very soon; The Centre for Ageing Better’s ‘Homes that Help’ study reported that over 25% of men and over 33% of women aged over 65 struggle with at least one ‘standard daily living’ activity. Age UK and TNS completed a joint survey that reported that over a fifth of people aged between 60-69 had already made alterations to their property; and over a third aged over 70. Further statistics compiled by Age UK found that over 2.45million older people in the UK have a daily care need – and 75% of these people can meet those needs by making an adaptation to their home.

Why Adapt Your Home?

Making even just minor adaptations to your home as you age can make a significant difference to life in several ways. These include the retention of independent living for longer; reducing the urgent need for day care or residential care facilities. Incidences and risks of falls and accidents can be hugely reduced, which has an onward financial impact on the subsequent costs of care and medical resources. 
There is also evidence to suggest that mental health is positively impacted by sufficient home adaptations. One Age UK survey found that 37% of older people were considerably more confident and 25% were less risk averse because of adaptations made to their home.
Outdoor security lighting

Home Adaptations for Accessibility: Outside

Not all changes to the home need to be major – many can be done quickly and cheaply yet still have a big impact on your daily quality of life.
Installing an outdoor handrail or ramp to the front door can improve accessibility, reduce the risk of accidents and just make getting in and out a little easier; as well as providing access to wheelchairs, walking frames, shopping trolleys and pushchairs.
Sufficient exterior lighting, particularly on a timer or sensor so that it comes on automatically when conditions darken, is not only a great safety feature but also a security one. Any intruders are much less likely to approach a well lit property as they know they can be much more easily identified.
Intercoms and video entry systems allow for easy identification of who is at your door and when managed remotely don’t even need you to leave where you are to answer. If someone is there that you do want to see or let in, you can do so and explain that you may need some extra time to get there. 
Key safes are a great addition to the exterior of any home; to home your spare key in the event of loss or someone else needing access. These are accessed through a combination code – which can be kept a secret unless you need to give it to someone else to let themselves in. These codes can also be changed regularly.
A renovated wet room

Home Adaptations for Accessibility: Bathroom

Bathrooms, by their nature, can be a difficult and dangerous room for older homeowners – but as part of everyone’s daily routine, cannot be avoided. 
Bath lifts can be fitted for those who otherwise struggle to get themselves in and out, or a bath with a side entry door that once in, fills up with water. For those who would struggle with or prefer not to have a bath at all, walk-in showers or wet room conversions remove all obstacles to getting clean and be installed with non-slip floors, handrails and seats for ease of access and comfort. Indeed wet rooms are now so popular, particularly in flats, apartments and smaller city living facilities, that their installation can also increase the value of a home!

Home Adaptations for Accessibility: Kitchen

One of the most common issues with accessibility in kitchens is height. Putting up shelves slightly lower or lowering the height of existing work surfaces can help aid mobility on a vast scale; even for those not currently experiencing accessibility issues. This is because often, kitchens are designed for aesthetics rather than adaptability.
There a wide range of mainstream kitchen gadgets such as kettle tippers that can help improve the kitchen experience for those who may find basic tasks in the room difficult.

Home Adaptations for Accessibility: Stairs

Stairlifts are a popular home accessibility addition, but stair rails are often underrated and can be hugely helpful. Installing a bathroom (or at least a WC if there isn’t one) downstairs saves the constant up and down for those who need it. Many people eventually consider extending their downstairs living space to include a bedroom or sleeping facilities, but this often forms part of a larger more major adaptation.
A row of terraced houses with a London skyline view

When is Best to Start Installing Home Adaptations?

Installing home adaptations before they become a necessity can help manage costs and planning easier, so it’s usually best to assume that the earlier, the better! Age UK found in a survey that while 25% of people were happy to plan for their future, 10% didn’t want to think about getting older at all – and 20% would only make changes to their home as and when they felt they had to. Many reported feeling that making home adaptations would make them feel vulnerable rather than reassured, and many considered such property changes to only be clinically focused.
The truth is, only you know when the time is right – but it’s important to keep it at the forefront of your mind if you want to stay where you are now forever. Refresh Renovations can help you to navigate what may currently seem a daunting prospect, but with the aim of keeping you where you love and around the people you love for as long as possible. 

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