Prolonging Independence

August 28, 2020

‘Ageing in Place’ is a term that has been around for a long time.  The idea that you can build or renovate a home that you love, in a neighborhood that you love to live in forever. Before our professional lives as designers I believed that the term had to do with building a space that you would live out your days in complete harmony.  The truth of the matter is that some will and some won’t and eventually most of us will have to need some support, but ageing in place should be considered before one really needs to in order to prolong one’s independence.  Doing small things to your house early can hopefully limit dangers and easy pressure on the body.  Things like levers on doors instead of door knobs, rocker switches instead of toggle switches.  In the modern era front doors, lighting, and your thermostat can all be accessed from your phone or larger device.  Always think of your floor and choose flat materials you can’t snag or trip on, and change it up when level changes are unavoidable. You can also avoid using strong patterns or shiny surfaces, sometimes those can interfere with depth perception. Apart from those generic ideas here are some specifically for the kitchen and bathroom.

In the Kitchen:

Include a surface where you can sit to prepare meals. Standing for long periods of time may become more difficult as you age. Consider, if you have it, increasing the distance between clearances. Linear prep and cooking is more efficient so maybe look at the Galley Workstation, this keeps the work contained and accomplishes prep, cooking, and serving in a single location. Designing the cooking surface nearby and linear to the sink, adds to efficiency and keeps moving around to a minimum, in turn fewer slips and spills.  Lastly opt for drawers under your countertop, in place of lower cabinets.

In the bathroom:

Choose a no-threshold or walk-in shower and consider incorporating a seat into the design. Trying to make the wall tiles contrast with the floor tiles can help you distinguish between wall and floor more readily.  Find towel bars that can duel purpose for grab bars. Also increase the height of things so you aren’t bending down as low, so make your vanity kitchen height and get a comfort-height toilet.

These are just small collections of some of the things we can do to help us grow and age in our homes no matter our age with the idea of prolonging our independence.

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