Do you love your home? Have you spent years making it the perfect place for you and your loved ones, and do you want to remain living there for as long as you possibly can?
If your answers to these questions are a resounding “Yes!”, then it’s time to start thinking about ‘futureproofing’ your home to make it easier to live there for as long as you like. For some people, retirement homes and older people’s communities are a great solution, but if you value your independence and want to remain in your own home, it’s always a good idea to plan ahead.
Lots of people in early retirement are seeing the sense in futureproofing their homes with a range of often simple and small changes that can make a real difference to their lives now and in the years ahead. As we’re living longer, it’s an investment that should keep paying dividends well into the future.
Why not carry out your own ‘futureproof home survey’, literally going around your home room by room with a notebook and pen, jotting down the changes that will help with daily life as you grow older. Making those changes now, or phasing them in over a few years, will mean your home is ready and equipped for your future. If you leave it too late, it could prove too much of a challenge.
Everyone’s survey will be different, depending on their home and individual needs, both now and looking ahead. For example, if you have a medical condition that might mean you use a wheelchair in years to come, then some fairly specific changes may be needed, such as widening doorways and hallways and lowering work surfaces. For most people though, simple changes can make a big difference. Here are a few ideas:
- Starting outside your property, if you have a garden or large outside area, will it be easy to maintain as you get older? Alternative surfaces could reduce maintenance, or if you enjoy gardening you might consider raised planting beds or investing in long-handled tools so you don’t have to bend too much.
- At your front door, you might consider changing steps for a ramp, installing a handrail or outside lighting, perhaps activated by a motion sensor. Easier-to-use door handles are a good idea throughout your home; levers are much better than knobs if your grip starts to weaken. A key safe near your front door is also a good idea, so you can give the combination to people you trust, such as a relative, neighbour or carer, and they can let themselves in.
- Once inside, if you have a narrow hallway it might be fairly simple to take out a non-supporting wall to make the space less restrictive. Look at lighting, light switches and especially flooring; will they be suitable or could they be improved? In the lounge, is it time to update your sofa and easy chairs for ones that will be easier to get in and out of? If you have a gas or electric fire, can you reach the controls without bending or kneeling? Similarly, are plug sockets easy to access, and you can swap the plugs over for easy-grip ones with handles. Cutting down on clutter and ornaments will also make your cleaning routine easier.
- The kitchen is one room where simple changes can make big differences. You might benefit from easy-grip utensils or gadgets like an electric tin-opener. Store cupboards should be easy to access and to see what’s inside, and cupboard door handles are easily changed if they are small or fiddly. You might want to raise appliances like a washing machine or freezer onto a plinth to cut down on bending, and lever taps are easy to turn on and off.
- Upstairs, the bathroom is another good room to futureproof. Is your toilet a suitable height, can you get in and out of a bath or shower easily, are taps and other controls easy to use? There are lots of adaptations to make a bathroom more user-friendly for older people, from simple grab rails or a shower seat to installing a walk-in bath or bath lift. Some might be more expensive, but planning ahead means you can spread the cost. The main thing to consider is safety, especially in reducing the risk of a fall.
- In the bedroom you might think about an electrically adjustable bed, or just one that’s at the right height for you. If you don’t have a phone extension in the bedroom it can be a good idea to get one installed. Simple changes like touch sensitive lamps instead of fiddly switches can help, or even remote control curtains and blinds.
Perhaps the single most effective change you can make to futureproof your home is to install an Acorn Stairlift. Designed to be unobtrusive and to blend with most decors, an Acorn Stairlift can be installed quickly and with no messy structural changes. It will effectively turn your two-storey home into a bungalow, meaning you never need worry about the stairs as you grow older or less mobile.
Acorn’s versatile and adaptable systems make our stairlifts suitable for almost all staircase types. To find out how you could benefit, why not book a free no-obligation home visit by one of our experienced surveyors, who will advise on the ideal stairlift solution for you and your home. The surveyor will also give you a detailed quote, with no hidden extras and valid for 12 months.
To get the ball rolling, call us on 0808 223 4871 or click on the green ‘Quick Free Quote’ button at the top right of this page. It’s never too early to start planning ahead, and with an Acorn Stairlift you can remain in the home you love and retain full use of it for years to come.