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Future proof your home

31st May 2017

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

The demographic of the UK is getting older with some studies estimating the life expectancy for people living in affluent areas of the country to rise to 90.

This means that people will be living in their homes longer and will therefore need to adapt them to make them more suitable for later life.

There are lots of ways people can future proof their home to continue living independently. From implementing a stair lift into a home to making doors wider, so here are lots of really useful tips to help older people to continue to live independently.

Insert a stair lift

A great way to ensure any part of a house is not out of bounds is to fit a stair lift.

No matter whether the stairways are straight or curved, a stair lift can still be installed and with the newer designs, the quality of seat and safety features are excellent.

The cost of a stair lift can vary, depending on the type of stair lift and any other customisations the user decides upon. Customers can also benefit from assessments to find out which type of stair lift might be best suited to them.

Those who are keen gardeners can even purchase outdoor stairlifts to enable them to get to different levels of their garden with ease.

These new outdoor stair lifts are durable and have been designed to resist the elements as they are fully waterproof and can operate in a variety of temperatures.

Reinforce bathroom walls

Reinforcing bathroom walls is another great option for older people wanting to stay independent.

Shane Wolffe from Future Proof My Building says, “Reinforce any bathroom walls during renovations. New homes in Canada are now being built with extra reinforcement so that a guard rail can be added without tearing the walls apart.

“If someone is doing bathroom renovations particularly in the shower or near the toilet, reinforce the walls with horizontal wood backing (2 x 10) between studs at the height that a handrail would go.”

Buy walk-in baths or showers

Staying in the bathroom, new walk-in showers and baths are a great way to live independently.

Unfortunately as we grow old our mobility can deteriorate and this means it can be difficult to get in and out of a shower or climb in and out of a bath.

There are a wide range of products and styles to choose from for different budgets and tastes so comfort and practicality doesn’t come at an impossible price.

The Federation of Master Builders, the UK’s largest trade association in the construction industry, adds, “If looking to futureproof your house against any eventuality, weigh up whether it’s worth replacing your old shower and bath with a wetroom, or a walk-in shower with large wall space for grab rails and fold down chairs.

“Even if ultimately you don’t need it, wetrooms are incredibly popular at the moment, making them a sound investment.”

Buy a keysafe

It isn’t just older people that can sometimes be forgetful, but one way to ensure that keys don’t get lost is to buy a key safe.

The C500 KeySafe is one such product that offers people a simple, secure way to keep a door key handy as it can be fitted to an external wall on a house, or a wall in an outhouse or a garage.

The product has been approved by the police after being tested on outside walls and it has been given a high security rating as well. Users just have to simply enter a code to access the key and open the front door.

Carers and family members can use it to enter the home, meaning anyone who takes time to answer the door doesn’t have to struggle as family members and trusted friends can let themselves in.

Another keysafe that is highly recommended is the Supra C500 from Key Safe, who are a market leader of mechanical key boxes.

The Supra C500 can hold up to five keys and is accessed by correctly entering the set code via the mechanical key pad.

Anyone with fears of safety don’t have to worry as the Supra C500 has an accredited certification from The Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB), the leading international Certification Body in the fields of security and fire protection.

Widen doorways

Older people with limited mobility would find it much easier getting around their home if the doorways were wider.

Depending on the insulation and the location of electrical switches and power points, costs for widening doorways can vary, but if it is not too expensive then it is one relatively easy alteration people can make to their home.

The Federation of Master Builders, says, “There are more general steps you can take as well. Widening doors is a simple modification that anticipates potential wheelchair use.

“We would always recommend insulating a property as well – older citizens are particularly vulnerable to fuel poverty and a retrofitted home is a really effective defence against the cold.”

Solar panels and new battery systems

Shane Wolffe, who has written the book How to Future Proof Your Home, says that adding solar panels to a new home or buying new batteries are great ways to future proof a home.

He says, “Homes should be equipped with the ability to add solar panels to the roof and sides of the home. Soon solar panels will be spray-on or a film that is applied to the entire building/property (fence, garage etc.). Electrical panels and guidelines will evolve to handle this, but ensuring that new electrical panels are oversized to handle both solar panels and battery systems is a good idea.

“New batteries are also coming online that will allow for an entire building to be powered using renewable energy and battery systems. Ensuring that these batteries and equipment can be integrated into the existing system should be a priority with new construction.”

Consider changing your carpets or flooring

Everyone wants to stay as healthy as possible, but something that people may not think of that could actually help with their health is changing their homes carpets or flooring.

Shane Wolffe explains, “Utilise materials that do not break down and cause indoor air pollution. Keeping people healthy as long as possible is essential to future proofing any building.

“The use of carpets or materials that can break down and trap mould, dust or allergens is not advisable. Not only do they contribute to poor health, but they have to be replaced likely at a time when someone has aged past the point of wanting to repair these items.

“Yes carpets are softer to walk on than many floor types, but renewable materials like cork or other materials exist that have padding and durability.”

Convert a ground floor room into a bedroom

One of the most popular methods used to future proof a home for someone that is aging and has mobility problems is to change a downstairs room into a bedroom.

The Federation of Master Builders, says, “If you have a second living room or a dining room on the ground floor, consider converting into a ground floor bedroom with en-suite to enable easier access. Having all of your essential facilities on one floor will make life a lot easier for those with limited mobility.”

Install infrared sensors

As we grow old, it can become more difficult to do simple things such as turn a tap, especially those who suffer from arthritis or dexterity problems.

The Federation of Master Builders has a solution, “A simple solution for those suffering from arthritis or dexterity problems, who might struggle to use taps or flushing systems, is to install infrared sensors. Likewise, adding electronic locks and automatic doors can help avoid unduly stressing joints and muscles.”

Image Credit: Key Safe.