Features to Look for When Buying a Home as a Senior

July 14, 2022 | Written By: Emma Jones

Every stage of life comes with different needs, preferences, and possibilities. Buying a home as a senior is undoubtedly different than house-hunting a home perfect for a young professional or a big family with a couple of young kids. Seniors need to pay closer attention to the property where they will spend their retirement days. It needs to be safe, comfortable, and practical – and this guide will help you find a perfect home for this chapter in life. Here are the features to look for in a home suitable for seniors so you are sure this is the right investment. 

Location 

Let’s begin with the most important aspect of this purchase – the location. The place your new home is located will determine your lifestyle in the future, so be sure to choose it carefully. Seniors often prefer homes located in optimal proximity to their children and grandchildren. Also, don’t forget the proximity to essential facilities such as supermarkets, healthcare facilities, recreational sports, etc. When it comes to long-distance relocation, many retirees move to senior-friendly places – close to fantastic nature spots, tax-friendly and convenient. Canada’s top places to retire are:

  • Kingston, Ontario
  • Vancouver, British Columbia 
  • Winnipeg, Manitoba
  • Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • Toronto, Ontario

You’ll choose the best location according to your situation and preferences. But carefully consider all the factors before focusing on a particular area. Nonetheless, what are the features your new home should have? Here are the most important ones to look for when buying a home as a senior. 

One-story home 

If possible, avoid stairs and multiple-story homes. As we age, going up and down the stairs becomes risker and more tiring. That’s why it’s better to get a single-level home that is easy to maintain and safer for seniors. 

Open floor concept 

Smaller rooms and narrow hallways are sometimes challenging to navigate. That’s why an open floor concept might be just the convenient feature to look for in a senior-friendly home. Combining the kitchen, living room, and dining area will make it easier to function on a daily basis and more accessible for those in a wheelchair or with a stroller. Furthermore, this kind of open space makes it easier to see and hear alarms, doorbells, or anything unusual that might happen. 

Rooms filled with light 

A senior-friendly home should be well-lit, with natural light or plenty of light fixtures. It’s one of the essential features to look for when buying a home as a senior, and there’s a good reason for it. Dark rooms will make reading a newspaper or your favourite book hard. A dark home is very risky and can cause injuries that commonly happen in senior households. Pick a home that either has a lot of windows and allows natural light or has enough light fixtures around the house to make every room bright enough. Focus on tricky parts of the home such as hallways and stairs – these should be well-lit for maximum safety. 

Non-slippery floors 

Unfortunately, falls and slips become more common as we get older. That’s why it’s better to be safe than sorry and find a home with floors that are not too slippery. These are usually tiles with texture, vinyl, bamboo floors, etc. Slip-resistant floors will minimize the risks of injury and ensure a safe environment for seniors living in the house. 

Wide doorways 

Seniors will get around the house much easier when doors and hallways are wide enough. This feature is particularly important for people in a wheelchair or with a stroller. The doors should be at least 90cm wide to ensure everything, especially any medical equipment, can go through. There shouldn’t be any thresholds when entering the house or a room, as these are a common cause of tripping over and injuries. 

Also, wide doorways are much more convenient for moving house. You won’t have to worry if your furniture can go through the doors. Either way, seniors should always rely on a professional moving team when moving into a new home. Experienced pros can make it easier for older people to relocate and minimize the risks of common moving injuries. 

Easy-to-grab doorknobs  

Many seniors have troubles with joint stiffness or arthritis, as well as sight issues. That’s why round doorknobs are not that popular in senior-friendly homes. It’s better to take home with levered handles on doors, which are easier to grab and open. 

Ways to make your home more senior-friendly 

Not every home is perfect. You might have to make some changes to create a more functional and safer living space. Here are some times on how to make your home more senior-friendly:

  • Secure the bathroom area by adding a non-slip mat to the bath or shower floor and handrails on the walls around it;
  • Instead of a bath, a walk-in shower is a much safer option;
  • A high-profile toilet will make it easier to sit down and get up, so consider replacing the old, lower toilet as soon as you buy a new home;
  • Secure rugs with anti-slip strips or remove them entirely to minimize the risk of tripping over;
  • Even though too much electronics may sound confusing to seniors, smart home features can be very helpful in a senior-friendly home. Smart locks and light switches, medication reminders, remote access to certain appliances – there are many ways to make daily life a lot easier with modern technology.

Buying a home as a senior is a different process than buying a home at any other stage in life, not only because of age. This is the time to think about yourself, your future, and your safety. And after taking care of kids for such a long time, this shift can be challenging. However, don’t forget to insist on your priorities when buying a new home, as this should be your place of peace, safety, and comfort at all times. And finally, don’t forget that an experienced agent can help you reach all of that – just be sure to hire the right one.