One of the things I noticed when considering downsizing homes was a lack of aging-in-place features in the design and construction of maintenance-provided villas. If you are transitioning into retirement and considering moving into to such a villa, take into account these seven elements:
1. Door and hallway width. An average wheelchair is 32-inches wide and would require a 4-foot radius in the hallway to turn around. A 3-foot door, measured for the opening, would allow a wheel chair to pass.
2. Door handles. You may find it becomes increasingly difficult to turn door knobs. Consider lever type door handles throughout the house.
3. Toilet height. Consider at least a mid-height to floor length seat so people can sit down comfortably without the risk of falling.
4. Wider stairs.
5. Showers – Roll in and Seat. Make sure the shower seats are wide enough to sit comfortably. Also, a roll-in shower may be helpful if you are ever required to use a walker later in life.
6. Grab bars in the bathroom. These should be built in to the studs for better strength.
7. Countertops. Watch the height here. If they are too low, you risk straining your back and you may want to consider whether a wheelchair can fit.
You may find that you never or rarely use the aging-in-place accommodations you’ve provided in your home, but I bet you’ll be happy to know they are there. Who knows? Maybe someone will visit who can use them, like an aging parent, relative or out-of-town friend.