Wow! you opened this one- that is not taken for granted. I know, I know. You’re young, or at the most middle-aged, and you don’t want to think about getting old yet. But I’m going to put this to you as gently as I can: Readying your home for the next stage of your life prevents you having to cope with unnecessary vulnerability as you grow older, and improves your quality of life. So this time I’m giving you some design tips to incorporate into your home any time you like. Without the need for expensive remodeling or other extreme measures, and with only a little effort on your part.
• As we get a bit older it's nice to shower sitting down. For one thing, it’s less likely that we’ll slip, secondly it makes washing ourselves easier and, last but not least, gives us a sense of ease and luxury! That’s why I recommend installing a folding seat that can be attached to the shower wall. That way you have the option of sitting down when you take a shower, without having to sacrifice any space. There are different kinds of folding seats available to buy in either plastic or wood. The height of the seat when it’s down should be 45-48 cm above the floor (unless you’re particularly short or tall.)
• Be sure to install grab-bars on the wall that’s at right angles to the seat, so that you can get up easily. These rails will of course be just as useful when you’re standing up. A handrail needs to be put up at an angle of 45 degrees, with the upper end of it 18-24 cm above the folding seat when it’s down. Don’t have your handyman install it immediately; you’ll need to work out exactly the right height for it first, by trying out the seat and seeing at what height you want to grip the rail. For obvious reasons, it’s sensible too to put in this kind of rail on the wall that’s at right angles to the toilet.
Where you can buy the products: The folding seat can be purchased at ceramics and bathroom supply stores. This model has proven itself in many different homes from the point of view of durability and comfort, and it’s aesthetic in design too. Handrails can be bought in bathroom stores too or at hardware stores.
EU and American Safety Association reports show that the most common cause of accidental death, after car accidents, is falling or slipping. So it’s important to make absolutely sure that the floor surfaces in the bathroom allow for smooth, stable and unobstructed movement.
• Flooring: From the year 2005, the Israeli Standard for flooring in wet areas requires that floor tiles be anti-slip. It’s advisable to use this kind of flooring in other parts of the home where slipping and falling is a danger—on the stairs, for example. In fact, extremely smooth floor surfaces should be avoided throughout the house. What if those slippery floors are already in place in your home? (I promised you tips that didn’t involve remodeling, right?) Well, these days you can actually buy a product that will make your floors anti-slip. It comes in a bottle and all you need to do is to apply it to your floor, following the instructions. The whole process only takes about an hour and the floors are ready for use straight after that. This product isn’t supposed to alter the appearance of your floor, though it certainly makes sense to do a “patch test” before you start. You can read more about ithere. (P.S. My aim with this link is not to recommend a particular brand but just to give you an idea of what you’re looking for.)
Where you can buy the product: You can buy it in stores that sell floor tiles and in building supply stores.
• Carpeting and rugs: Remember that the height of any rug off the floor constitutes an obstacle. Although deep-pile carpets look soft and luxurious, try and stick to the thinner ones and to avoid tripping in your home. It’s also important that your rugs don’t slide around, otherwise you’ll find yourself “taking off” whenever they move underneath you. That’s why I recommend ananti-slip mat to go under each of your rugs. This is a thin, light piece of non-slip fabric measured to fit the dimensions of your rug— it’s usually sold by the meter so you can buy the exact amount you need and cut it to size.
Where you can buy the product: You can buy this material at carpet stores, carpet cleaning companies, hardware stores and even IKEA. Here is an online option too.
It’s important that your storage areas are convenient to use and accessible. You want to avoid back injuries as well as having to empty out half a closet before finding whatever it was you were looking for. Therefore I recommend all lower closets and cabinets being fitted with pullout shelves and baskets. If it’s not yet the right time for a new kitchen in your home, then bring in a carpenter who’ll install pullout shelves in your existing kitchen. That’s the lower cabinets. As for the upper ones, the older we get, the more important it is to store things at eye level or at one arm’s length away. Climbing up on to stools and ladders entails taking unnecessary risks. Far better to organize your closets so that everything that’s used on a daily basis is quickly accessible and doesn’t require stretching or climbing.
Install handrails for the entire length of your corridors and staircases or in any place where you need the extra support. A rail of this sort should be set at a height of 90-95 cm above the floor. You can order engraved wooden rails or designer cast iron rails—different varieties are available to match your individual home design.
• Changing light bulbs: First and foremost, your home should be well lit. When you do need to change light bulbs, switch to the most powerful variety you can find. But do choose the ones that have a golden glow and are pleasant to look at, rather than the bright white ones that tend to be harsh on the eye. These days, it’s easy to put in light bulbs that are economical; Where possible, prefer LED bulbs. These last for years and use very little electricity, so you won’t have to change them very often, thus saving yourself that hassle of changing bulbs often. They don’t heat up either, so they’re safer to use in that respect too.
• Emergency lighting: Emergency lighting needs to be set up in the corridors, in the entranceway and in the bathrooms. Make sure that during a power cut, you’re able to see at least one point of light no matter where you are in your home. Emergency lighting can be bought as a separate unit, hung on the wall and plugged into an electric socket, so that it charges when not in use. There are also certain kinds of concealed lighting that act as regular lights year round but stay lit during a power cut.
• Night lighting: Nightlights need to be in place en route to bathrooms and stairs. If you don’t have the appropriate electrical setup for this, you can buy separate, battery powered LED lights that can be glued directly to the wall without the need for drilling or an electrician.
Where you can buy the products: Emergency lighting units can be bought in lighting stores, building supply stores and hardware stores. LED battery powered lighting can be found on the Internet, for example here.
So, are you convinced? Small home improvements that don’t require massive remodeling or a huge investment can transform your home into a pleasant and safe environment, prevent accidents and even save a life!
And what about design? If you’ve read the above closely, you’ll have noticed that most of the above are hardly visible to the eye. And if they are, then you might want to use them as an opportunity for some overall redesigning. Every small thing that I’ve written about here is available in a number of different designs so that you can choose whatever style you like best.
Enjoy the upgrade,
Creating spaces people want to live in