Apart from all the travelling, new hobbies, and countless adventures you’ll enjoy, retirement is also a time to rethink your current living space. It’s a fact of life that as we age, our body also loses its strength and endurance. Staircases will be like mountains, and slippery flooring will be more dangerous than ever.
Since you will have more time & money to invest in your “forever home” by then, you’ll be able to accommodate renovations and other home improvement projects for your golden years. In preparing your home for retirement, the goal is to transform your place into one that will provide you with comfort, ease of access, and security for the rest of your life.
So go and look around your home, jot down enhancements you’d like to get done and talk to your family for assistance. To guide you in this undertaking, here are our top home improvement tips that’ll help you age in place:
1. Build your life around the first floor
If you live in a multi-story home, it’s time to quit the stairs and settle down living on the first floor alone. This means relocating all amenities to one level, including the master bedroom, bathroom, and laundry area. Depending on the space, you can either build these rooms from scratch or go the more cost-effective route of converting existing rooms on the first floor. Not only will your knees thank you for this, but limiting traffic on just one level will make your home easier to maintain and clean up.
Pro-tip: When relocating your bedroom, choose the quietest area away from traffic noise. This is because as you enter your senior years, it’ll be much harder to sleep deeply. Catch those zzz’s by doing this!
2. Set up a fitness spot
Don’t you have a private gym yet? Now’s the time to dedicate an area for fitness equipment such as a treadmill, yoga mat, and senior-friendly dumbbells. You can do this on the first floor or set it up outdoors to catch some sun while working out.
3. Choose slip-resistant flooring
Switching from slippery flooring to slip-resistant is your first step to catching yourself from falling over or tripping in the future. Some options include vinyl, linoleum, cork, and carpet. These are also resilient floors, meaning they were engineered for comfort, giving your legs a break from all the other rigid floor choices.
4. Create an accessible entry point
As you age, little things– like climbing two or three steps leading to your front door – suddenly become a daunting task. To ensure that you can step in and out of your house without hassle, you can install a ramp or a gradually-inclined walkway with a handrail. Through this, you will still be able to access your home should you need the help of a wheelchair or walker one day.
While you’re at it, you can widen interior doorways by adding in a few extra inches. To fit a wheelchair, set your target doorway width at 32 inches or higher.
5. Make your bathroom senior-friendly
A couple of upgrades will help you avoid fall-related incidents in the bath. A common tip would be installing grab bars in the shower, toilet area, sink, or other areas where you’d learn. Plus, you may want to replace a bathtub with a walk-in shower unit with a handheld shower head. This type of shower head gives you more flexibility while you bathe.
6. Investing in tech & security solutions
Does tech freak you out? We sure hope not ‘cause smart home devices will make for valuable upgrades when you retire. If you haven’t heard of the concept, your home becomes a ‘smart home’ when you furnish it with electronic gadgets designed to perform automated tasks when you command it. Lights, heating, door locks, and appliances can be voice-activated. Futuristic, isn’t it?
If you don’t have one yet, you may want to consider setting up a CCTV and an alarm system for you and your property’s protection. Also, don’t be shy about plastering signs that say your home is under constant surveillance. This measure shoos away potential criminals who might take advantage of your vulnerability as an elder.
7. Repaint and redecorate to match your style
Have you always wanted to paint your house a certain colour but never did? Don’t let this turn into another ‘what if’ and do it! While it is recommended to choose a calming palette, the colour of your "forever home" will be solely up to you. You can also do other mini-aesthetic projects, such as redecorating the living room with plants, spicing up a bland wall with photo frames, and placing fresh flowers in the kitchen.