As we age, our design needs change. For many, this means having to sell up and move into assisted care. However, this need not be the case. Increasingly, people are choosing to remodel their homes to suit their changing needs so they can stay put as they grow old.

And designers and contractors are ready to help. Many recommend age-proofing your house during your next extension or renovation — before disabilities require it.

This means planning ahead: identifying potential problems that could gradually become an issue over time. These could be trip hazards such as uneven flooring, slippery tiles in showers or very smooth surfaces; or mobility vehicle obstructions like steps or narrow doorframes.

With these in mind, you may want to widen doorways or remove walls for improved flow, level out entrances, and invest in more accessible furnishings e.g. wider showers to accommodate mobility equipment, taps that are easy to turn on or off etc. now means less hassle further down the track as physical and mental abilities change.

What’s more, none of these need to have even a whiff of nursing home about them – they can be tastefully designed but also practical. The buzzword now is ‘universal design’ that ensures barrier-free access for everyone, no matter what their age, stage or ability. Think handrails that glow in the dark, furniture with higher seats and so on.

According to many interior designers and contractors, this approach to renovation is growing in popularity, especially with Baby Boomers. Many are realizing the value of investing to stay in a house they love for as long as possible, rather than pay vast sums to an assisted living facility where they often experience poorer quality of life.

What do you think?