Many older people prefer to stay in their existing home. Accessibility and maintenance are key factors in your ability to stay as long as you wish.
Making changes to your home
When planning for the future, some consideration should be given to whether your home is safe, easy to enter and move around, and easily modified to meet your changing needs.
Not all of the changes around your home require a big budget. What small changes can you make? Could changing the way a door swings make a room more accessible, especially in an emergency? How would the addition of railings or handles assist you down the track? What other devices or changes can you make so that you can live in your home longer? Furniture choices, such as height-adjustable tables, benches and chairs, can make a difference.
Depending on your home and your financial situation, you may be looking at renovations or extensions. When planning these changes, consider the width of your hallways and doors – are they wide enough for mobility aids? Are there other options to having stairs in your home? The Australian Network for Universal Housing Design has produced Livable Housing Design Guidelines, which contains 15 Livable Housing Design Elements that you could talk to your builder or architect about.
Home and garden maintenance should also be considered. Are there changes you can start making over the next few years that will make it more manageable down the track? This might mean redesigning your gardens so that some sections are easily maintained and all of your time and effort could then go into a smaller section. Also consider the landscaping of your property as a whole, e.g. the condition and accessibility of footpaths, driveways, stairs or your front gate. As you are maintaining your property now, think about the things you can do now to make maintenance easier in the future, e.g. is there a building material that has an extended life span or doesn’t require painting at a later stage?
Making modifications can be more difficult if you are renting, as you may need to have an agreement with your lessor to make changes. It is advisable to get an agreement in writing, detailing what fixtures are to be added or changed, who will be responsible for the cost, whether they need to be removed when you leave the property, and whether you will be reimbursed for the cost of the fixtures.
More information on this and other items to consider can be found by moving through the other topic specific links. Alternatively, you can have a Housing Chat” with the Housing Information Line on 1300 135 500. We can provide you with resources and information on services in your chosen location, as well as tips or tricks to look out for.