Home Exterior Ideas to Promote Safer Aging in Place
Tuesday Jan 28th, 2020
When thinking of aging in place or creating a home with a universal design, not enough consideration is put into the exterior of a home. As we grow older, our ability to maintain areas can become more difficult, plus there are safety concerns that can make it harder to navigate the outdoors. That’s why it’s so critical to put extra thought into the exterior of a home when designing a plan to age in place.
Here are some ideas to consider:
Getting in and out of a home can present many challenges if preparations aren’t made to the entrances and exits of a home. To allow for easier access, doorways should be at least 91.44 mm (36 inches) wide to provide better clearance and a low- or no-lip threshold should be installed if a person’s range of motion is limited. Overhangs and canopies are also a good idea to provide shade and to act as a barrier from bad weather when entering and exiting the home.
For aging homeowners, climbing stairs can be more difficult and making access for a wheelchair or a walker may be needed to promote greater freedom of mobility. When remodelling a home to age in place, consider providing space for a wheelchair ramp near an entrance to the home in case it’s needed in the future.
As per Ontario’s Building Code, a handrail is required for stairs with more than three risers and two handrails should be installed when the risers are 1,100 mm (43.31 inches) in width or more. However, when designing a home to age in place, extra handrails are extremely valuable since they provide greater stability and can prevent falls.
Stamped concrete and exterior tile can be slippery when they get wet and pose a great safety risk to aging homeowners. Sidewalks and cracked surfaces can also be a tripping hazard and are not recommended. Instead, textured surfaces provide better grip and traction, proving helpful to prevent slips, trips and falls. You also want to make sure that any paths or ramps are at least 91.44 mm (36 inches) wide to make it easier for people with mobility aids to get by.
Proper exterior lighting illuminates walkways, assists with identifying obstacles and reduces the risk of trips or falls. That’s why it’s very important to have adequate lighting by the main entrances/exits of a home and along any walkways. Automatic lighting works best for this purpose since they turn on and off on their own.
As we age, conditions like arthritis become more common and cause inflammation and pain in the body. This can make twisting and turning doorknobs very difficult, which is why lever door handles are recommended for interior and exterior door applications. With a lever, much less effort and strength are required to open a door. They can also be paired with a keyless lock system for added convenience.
Low maintenance elements, like vinyl siding and windows, and a quality roof will reduce the amount of exterior work that is required on a home. The same is true about low maintenance landscaping, which not only reduces the amount of attention that a homeowner has to pay to their outdoor spaces, but they are more cost-effective to have a landscaping company maintain.
For many people, aging in place is a preferred lifestyle because it allows them to live in their home of choice for as long as they can, while being able to get any assistance as their needs change. If you desire to create a home that’s safe and well-equipped to allow you to age in place, an Accredited Senior Agent (ASA) can walk you through the process so you can go about your choice with confidence.
To learn more, please contact me, Deborah Clerk, Real Estate Sales Representative and ASA at Keller Williams Realty Solutions, Brokerage, in Mississauga, Ontario, to chat about your options.