Customer Feature: Home Construction for Aging in Place a Growing Trend

Today, there are more than 46 million adults age 65 and older living in the U.S. By 2050, that number is expected to grow to almost 90 million. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, within the next decade one in every five residents will be retirement age.

People are living longer than ever, and more of them want to remain able to live in their own homes as long as possible.

Forward-thinking adults and builders are working together to create homes that are designed to achieve this goal. Long-time Harbin customer Sandstone Custom Homes recently completed their latest home designed for Aging in Place for a couple relocating to be closer to their family.

The exterior of the two-story with full basement home is built to be very low maintenance without sacrificing style or quality. A combination of brick, stone, concrete siding, vinyl windows, vinyl shutters, and fiberglass doors used on the residence are aesthetically pleasing in their design while requiring little to no upkeep.

Stepping inside the beautiful home, it’s not immediately noticeable that the home was designed for wheelchair accessibility, decreased mobility or that it includes safety features in place in the event a resident develops cognitive impairment such as dementia. Upon closer inspection, there are hundreds of adjustments that were made to accommodate any number of age-related impairments that might eventually be present.

Beginning in the entryway, the eye is drawn to gleaming wood floors. But those floors are engineered hardwood, and that’s because they can withstand more wear and tear (as with a wheelchair or a walker), will not warp, and provide a smooth, transition-less surface where feet can shuffle and wheels can roll easily.

The gorgeous stacked stone fireplace holds gas logs that light with the flip of a switch. The switch is accessible at waist level, rather than having to stoop to turn the gas on and risk a fall.

Moving into the kitchen, the center island is designed with a deep overhang that a wheelchair can easily roll underneath…until then it’s perfect for tucking away bar stools. All the pathways throughout the kitchen, and the rest of the home, are wide enough for a wheelchair to roll unencumbered. There are no sharp edges on the counter tops or cabinets…everything has been well planned to avoid injury, but beautifully designed so that the home is enjoyable and functional without any hint of institutional-like features.

The tranquil master bedroom is located on the main floor, which is a must for mobility or cognitive impairment. With a double tray ceiling and en-suite bath, it is a gorgeous retreat for the homeowners. But this suite, too, has designs for the ‘what ifs’ of the future. The wall that will house the bed has outlets that are raised higher than standard, and separate switches for the overhead light, overhead fan, and the outlet where a bedside lamp will plug in. Those switches are placed at the perfect height to be able to reach from the bed, and on the side of the bed with direct access to the en-suite bath.

Inside the master bath, the natural light floats in to illuminate a spacious his and hers vanity, a roll in shower, separate water closet, and a walk in jacuzzi tub. The room has a five foot turn radius to accommodate a wheelchair. Sandstone even included a drain in the floor outside the walk in tub, just in case a resident ever accidentally opened the tub door and flooded the bathroom.

The master closet was custom built by Sandstone’s Robert and Sonja Sanders, with accessible hanging and folding space, and an ingenious pass-through in the wall where laundry can be tossed directly into the laundry room utility sink. The laundry room also features a laundry chute that leads from the upstairs into a cabinet that hides the collection until ready for wash.

In the event the homeowners ever need live-in assistance, there is a secondary master on the main floor, along with another separate living quarters including a bedroom, full bath, kitchenette and living room in the basement. There are also unfinished additional expansion areas in the basement and the second floor.

The multi-story home’s floors are accessible via staircases or the roll-in elevator, which is beautifully tucked away behind a door that matches the other doors in the home.

Upstairs houses two guest rooms and a full bath for the grandchildren to use when they visit, along with a playroom loft that overlooks the downstairs living area. All of the windows have special latching mechanisms in place that can be activated to prevent small children, pets, or someone with cognitive problems from accidentally falling out.

There are even accommodations included on the exterior of the home. Tucked away in the garage is a ramp that provides an alternate entry to the home for anyone with mobility issues. The garage bay can still accommodate a very compact car or golf cart, and there are two other open bays remaining for the couple’s vehicles.

The exterior living area was designed with no transitions in the flooring. The tiled floor of the covered sitting area with the stacked stone fireplace is seamlessly connected to the composite deck. Beautiful metal railings that don’t impede the gorgeous view of the pond with fountain or the 18th hole the home is situated on are taller than standard, an additional safety feature to prevent fall hazards.

Even the HVAC units were considered when building this home. Sandstone housed them in accessible storage spaces, including a climate controlled space that doubles as a large storage closet for the upstairs unit. This will make changing filters a breeze, no matter what physical limitations might come in the future.

The home is a Right Choice Energy Efficient Home, a program through Jackson EMC that raises the standards for energy efficiency, improved indoor air quality, convenience and comfort. Homes certified for the Right Choice program enjoy lowered energy use as well as reduced energy rates, which is a perfect fit for an aging in place home, where the homeowners will eventually be living on a fixed income. Sandstone Custom Homes is such an advocate of the program that every home they build is certified through this program.

This home is a gorgeous example of what a savvy home builder with a lot of planning and talent can accomplish to meet the current and future needs of a homeowner. Well done, Sandstone Custom Homes. We are honored to have been part of this project.

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