I recently came across an article in the Daily Mail about how half of our children will live to be 103 and the first person to reach 150 has already been born. This both pleased and worried me at the same time.
You see, it is great that we have managed extend our life expectancy. When I was born in 1982 our life expectancy was just 74 years, by the time Roo was born in 2006 it had increased to 79 years and when Tigger joined us in 2010 it was 80 years.
Working in the healthcare sector I see older and older people everyday, anyone under 80 years old is considered young. With some 80/90 years olds surprising me with their ability to mobilise, live independently and seeing all their lights still switched on (if you know what I mean).
Not all ‘old’ people are this healthy, able, or switched on and this is where I begin to worry. If our children are going to live pass 100 years old then we need to be making plans for their futures now. There are so many logistical things that go into keeping the elderly at home, safe and healthy. For example, my home which was built c. 1900 would not be practical for an elderly person to live in. Why? firstly out staircase is narrow with tall steps which are difficult for Roo and Tigger to manage at the best of times. Secondly our bathroom is downstairs, which can be seen as a positive or a negative. Great if they are living downstairs but not so great if they sleeping upstairs and need to use the toilet in the middle of the night. Thirdly, we have steps up to our front door so would be difficult to enter and exit the property not only for the resident but for any medical teams required etc.
How do you prepare for the future?
Well I think it is time that housing developers got in on the act, by making their properties appealing to both the family market but having the option to make some easy alterations to allow the older generation to stay in their home once the children have left.
- Instead of steps leading up to the property, where possible landscape the front entrance so that it either has a ramped entrance or seemless goes from pathway to doorway.
- Wider doorways to allow ease of maneuverability for wheelchairs or wheeled walking frames.
- Staircases to be wide enough for two banister rails or for the Encasa Experts to work their magic in fitting a stairlift.
- Ensuite wet rooms, ensuites are growing more and more common in new builds but by adding a wet room it allows access by all age groups. The addition of a wall mounted shower chair will aid those who are unable to stand for periods of time.
What adaptions to new builds do think should come as standard for our aging population??