University of Missouri Extension

GH5462, Reviewed October 1993

Features of the "Age-Proof" House

Mary S. Pickett and Mary K. Sullivan
Iowa State University

Most older people want to stay in their own homes as long as possible; they enjoy the independence and individuality of living in familiar surroundings.

So, if you're planning a home for your retirement years or for your parents, then we'd like to look at what older homemakers have told us are needs of those aged 65 and beyond.

Uppermost are convenience, comfort and safety — good ideas for people of any age. The room of most concern is the kitchen where they, like other homemakers, spend a good share of their time.

What are their concerns based on? The senses grow duller more than the individual realizes. Eyesight, hearing, smelling and even the sense of touch isn't what it used to be.

You're not as agile you slow down — you don't have the zip you once had. Even your sense of balance becomes affected.

In a survey, 85 homemakers, age 65 and over, were asked their preferences in housing and equipment. The following advice is from these interviews.

Convenience and comfort

Convenience and comfort pretty much go hand-in-hand. If your house is built for convenience, then it's certain to be comfortable to live in. In the survey, the older homemakers indicated they wanted the following:

It's better to have some separation between the laundry area and the spot where food is being prepared. This lessens the danger of food contamination from soiled clothes. So keeping the laundry equipment in an area separated from the kitchen proper is best for health's sake.

Convenience in care

The work involved in maintaining a home brought ideas for conserving energy. To make the job easier, the homemakers interviewed listed these:

Safety of the house

Safety was important. Things that do not concern younger homemakers can be dangerous to an older person. Try to avoid the following safety hazards:

Good light is one of the best and least-expensive insurance's against falls, and should be used in ample supply throughout the home. Often older homemakers need good light to read or sew. If the rest of the room is dimly lit, they may fall because their eyes cannot adjust quickly enough.

Safety of utilities

Safety and convenience in house utilities has long been the concern of many homemakers and include the following:

However, physical limitations need to be considered. A dull sense of smell may make it impossible for the older person to detect odors associated with gas leaks.

Plan for convenience, comfort and safety. It will improve the home environment and give maximum livability for later years.

Just as people prepare for financial security and best possible physical health, so should they prepare for appropriate housing needs.

GH5462 Features of the “Age Proof” House | University of Missouri Extension

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