Future proofing your home
28th April 2021
As we get older, our homes can gradually become a burden to our lives with stairs, small and narrow doorways and uneven surfaces becoming a hazard, especially to those who develop mobility problems and may need to rely on stairlift solutions.
There are lots of ways people can future proof their home to continue living independently. From homelifts to implementing a stairlift into a home to making doors wider, so here are lots of really useful tips to help older people to continue to live independently.
Install a stairlift
A great way to offer freedom and independence in the home is to install a stairlift or mobility aid to help you get around safely. Whether you need a curved stairlift or a straight stairlift, a home lift can still be installed and with the newer designs, the quality of seat and safety features are excellent.
The cost of a stairlift can vary, depending on the type of stairlift and any other customisations the user decides upon. Customers can also benefit from assessments to find out which type of stairlift might be best suited to them and their needs in their homes.
Those who are keen gardeners can even look into outdoor stairlift options to enable them to get to different levels of their garden with ease. These new outdoor stairlifts are durable and have been designed to resist the elements as they are fully waterproof and can operate in a variety of temperatures.
Keep decoration simple
A top tip from blogger Victoria, who is behind the website Lylia Rose, thinks one of the easiest ways to aid your home for the future is to keep decoration simple. Bright wallpapers, extravagant carpets and ‘fashionable’ accessories can often go out of fashion and you may not like them in a few years. To not have to update your home every few years, keep things simple and walls a neutral colour:
“One of my favourite ways to future proof a home is to keep the walls white. Not only does it make a home look new, fresh and airy, but it stops a house from quickly dating if wallpaper or paint trends are used on the walls and then become dated. It's so much easier to be able to add bold and trendy furniture in a room with white walls and to replace easily or upcycle these as trends change, without needing to remove wallpaper. White walls with smooth plaster provide a timeless look for any house that can suit any decor and always makes a house feel like new.”
Jo from A Rose Tinted World agrees and continues to explain how she recommends you steer on the side of classic décor when it comes to updating your home: “I think when future proofing your home you have to think about accessibility for the future. Be that for you ageing, or the room decor, fittings and appliances ageing. I would always err towards the more classic styles of cupboards and bathroom suites for instance.”
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.”
Install grab rails
Reinforcing walls means that you can add grab rails and handles to the bathroom easily and simply without having to worry about the walls not being able to take the weight. Grab handles are a great addition to older people’s homes to offer them a little extra safety whilst using the bathroom.
Buy walk-in baths or showers
Staying in the bathroom, walk-in baths and showers are a great way to live independently without having to install a whole new bathroom suite. Unfortunately, as we grow older 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 is a wide range of products and styles to choose from for different budgets and tastes so comfort and practicality do not have to come at an impossible price.
The Federation of Master Builders, the UK’s largest trade association in the construction industry, adds, “If looking to future proof your house against any eventuality, weigh up whether it’s worth replacing your old shower and bath with a wet room, or a walk-in shower with large wall space for grab rails and fold down chairs. Even if ultimately, you don’t need it, wet rooms are incredibly popular at the moment, making them a sound investment.”
There is a huge range of walk-in shower and easy access bath options, so there is bound to be something to suit your exacting needs without huge costs and worry.
Buy a key safe
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. A key safe is a great way to offer a little extra security for those who find it hard to get up and about quickly.
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.”
Although this isn’t doable for everyone, if you are making alternations to your home, consider making the spaces large and open plan, these sorts of environments are much easier for those with limited mobility or those who may be in wheelchairs as there is a lot more space to move around, as Petra from A Mum Reviews mentions:
“When considering any changes to your home, keep the future needs of yourself or your family in mind too and make choices that will be good in the future too, not just now. One of the things that I think is most important is to ensure there is plenty of space to move around freely and to change spaces as needed. Open plan layouts with adaptable living spaces can really help to make any future changes much easier.”
Add 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. 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.”
Having solar panels added to your property means that over time you won’t need to worry about your electricity use and can live comfortably knowing that costs are covered.
Keep up to date with technology
Technology is constantly evolving and keeping up can often be a struggle but getting to grips with new equipment may help you keep your independence. Smart televisions, smart metres and camera doorbells are just some of the items that are becoming more and more popular that not only keep you safer in your home but can help you live a more comfortable life.
“When it comes to future-proofing your home, it’s important to keep your eye on new technology,” says Claire from On The Soap Box. She continues: “If you don’t, your devices may become obsolete. Consider getting a smart television which will allow you to watch your favourite television programmes back if you miss them live. If you also have a smartphone, then you may find that you can control things like your heating via an app on your phone. Technology like this is surprisingly easy and intuitive to operate too. If you’re interested in exploring one of these options, then chat to a friend or a loved one about the smart technologies they use.”
Robbie, blogger at Paternal Damnation also recommends keeping up with technology but he recommends looking at smart devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home devices to aid you in your home: “One of the easiest ways to future proof your home is by using voice assistants such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home devices. These units are compatible with a whole host of useful items, making it possible to control your lighting, change your thermostat, or even close your blinds with a simple voice command.”
Consider changing your carpets or flooring
Everyone wants to stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible, but something that people may not think of that could 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 for as long as possible is essential to future-proof 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 ageing 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 it 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 a limited mobility.”
Install infrared sensors
As we grow old, it can become more difficult to do simple things such as turn a tap, especially for 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.”
These are just some of the ways you can future proof your home without large costs and unwanted stress. If you’re looking to make improvements or adaptations to your home, why not consider thinking about adding some of these?
This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.