Hometown Lawrence: Prepare your home to remain comfortable as you age

One step homeowners can take to prep their homes for retirement is to move items stored in high cabinets or on high shelves.

Are you dealing with that awkward age? No, not adolescence. For those at the tail-end of the baby boom generation (people born between 1946 and 1964), now is the time to consider the future of your home.

Do you plan to continue living there, or are you ready to move to a smaller place or different location? Surveys by AARP show most people want to stay in their home and neighborhood as they age. If you’re one of them, how do you make it possible to not only enjoy your home now but also to keep enjoying it as you get older?

While your home may work well for you as is, it may become a problem later. Now is a good time to simplify so you don’t spend your retirement years taking care of and cleaning stuff. Simplifying your accessories will make the upkeep of your home and cleaning of the space much less time consuming.

Some ways to simplify include:

Stop using your home as a storage unit. If you’re still storing stuff for your kids, tell them to come and get it, and give them a drop dead date.

Organize the kitchen and bathroom cabinets so the items you use most are easy to access so you avoid climbing stepladders or getting down on your knees to reach something. Also, consider replacing heavy dishes with lighter ones for easier handling.

If the closets are full of projects that you never seem to get around to, it’s time to donate or sell them to free up the space.

Now is also a good time to look at the structure of your home to see if changes need to be made. Start with installing no-step entryways. Then the home or main living areas can be entered without going up a stair or stairway. If ramps are needed, they don’t have to be ugly. Most can be built to fit the home’s décor.

Next consider one-story living, where the rooms for eating, sleeping, and bathing are all located on one level, which is usually the first floor for easy accessibility. This may require adding a master bedroom and bath to the main floor, with a laundry space on that level as well.

Other remodeling projects to consider include widening doorways and hallways to 32 to 42 inches for easier maneuverability. Improved lighting is a good idea and can be done with extra table and floor lamps, or with additional overhead lighting fixtures. Plus, installing lever door handles and rocker light switches are useful both for people with poor hand strength as well as those trying to open doors and turn on lights with their hands full.

Your home should reflect who you are and work for you in the future. Start setting up your home now to help you enjoy your retirement.

Hometown Lawrence

Hometown Lawrence is the Lawrence Journal-World’s real estate resource section and website. For more information on area real estate listings, go to HometownLawrence.com.