According to the most recent demographic projections by Statistics Canada, one in five Canadians will be aged 65 and older by 2024. And this generation—which still makes up the largest percentage of the population—is holding strong to its rebel roots, with a vast majority opting to maintain independence at home rather than move into assisted-living quarters.
The same study by StatsCan estimates that 80% of this generation plan on renovating in the next three years. While this reality may not make for a strong housing market, there’s no denying the appeal of staying put at the address you know and love. (It comes as no surprise that aging in place is closely tied to better physical and mental health in seniors too.) With some strategic design retrofits like the options featured below, you can be set up for a safer, easier life at home for as long as you see fit.
- An Adjustable Island
We have officially entered the futuristic kitchen. Consider an island that can adjust its height at the push of a button and extend on either side to accommodate a wheelchair or chair if you need to sit while preparing food. The drawers on some models open with a light touch and have a cushioned self-closure.
Brands are adding smart features to their products across the board – and some are smarter than others. Kohler’s Sensate faucet acts like a kitchen assistant and can be turned on via touchless actions or voice command (as well as manually, of course).
- A Touchless Faucet
- An Adjustable Closet
You don’t have to redesign your entire bedroom to make your closet work better for you. Pull down closet rods have definitely improved over the years – no longer the flimsy frames of years past. If you want to go all out, there are motorized versions too!
- On The Floor
A smooth, even surface is ideal and can be better on joints. Consider a non-slip, self-cleaning tile. Self-cleaning, or photolytic, tiles allow less dirt to adhere to their surfaces, facilitating cleaning. This means you can clean them with water and a mild detergents, eliminating the need for more aggressive cleansers which are often toxic, and more expensive, and more labour intensive
- Automate Your Appliances
Smart plugs enable voice or app control (or both) of all of your lights and appliances; you can even schedule them to power on and off automatically.
ADA compliant grab bars can be every bit as stylish as they are functional.
- Sleek Grab Bars
- A Smart Washer
A front-loading washer is essential for those that want to age in place – add this to the list of things you didn’t know you could upgrade. With some models, you can use an app to start a cycle while you’re out shopping, get alerts when your laundry is ready or even access the diagnostic tools that keep your appliance in top shape.
- A Low-Profile Bed
An ADA-compliant bed is between 20 and 23 inches in height from the bottom of the bed to the top of the mattress. Many of your favourite brands provide frames that will accommodate these measurements – you just have to look!
Installing door hardware slightly lower than the usual height and opting for a lever handle instead of a knob makes them easier for all users to open and close. Consider oiled bronze for visual impact without sacrificing warmth.
- Levers, Not Knobs