By Sandy and Gary Elliott
Although people buying a Marco Island condo this year range in age from 22 to 92, the average age of a condo buyer is 57, and the median age is 60. Thankfully, Collier County is where women can expect to live the longest in the United States — 86. Men living here have a life expectancy of 80. These life expectancies will only increase as NCH Healthcare Systems initiates its Blue Zones Project in Southwest Florida in support of its 10-year vision to make the region an even healthier, happier and more vibrant place to live.
Given these demographics, interior design concepts like “Aging in Place” and “Universal Design” assure a happy and healthy lifestyle for those condo owners lucky enough to have found Marco Island and own a condo here.
The idea of an accessible condo has evolved beyond grab bars and ramps to one where accessibility is built into the design, making living in a condo easier for people of all ages and abilities. “Accessible” can be both beautiful and functional, and with our aging population, the issue of accessibility in our homes is growing even more important and urgent.
To make your condo more accessible and to create a “forever home” try some of these fixes:
- Declutter to make it easier to move around your home. Too many pieces of furniture or a room stuffed to overflowing with accessories and floor pieces gathering dust, clog walkways and make getting around more difficult. For lasting memories, take pictures of those items you do not want to forget then donate them to a local charity. Make an online photo gallery for yourself.
- Install lever handles on all your doors. It makes opening and closing them so much easier to use.
- Eliminate scatter mats from every room because they are a real slip-and-trip hazard.
- When replacing flooring, choose hard surface floor materials, including wood, cork and tile. For carpeted areas, a tight dense weave is a good choice. Put a pad below large area rugs to prevent movement and slipping.
- Install comfort height toilets in all bathrooms. They are more comfortable and easier to use.
- Install grab bars in all bathing areas and around the toilet area. Not only are they functional but today’s designs are beautiful.
- Mount microwaves below the counter, not above the stove. Today’s drawer pull-out microwaves are easy to install and safer and easier to use.
- Add pull out trays and trash holders to cabinets in the kitchen, bath and pantry for easier access.
- Add more lighting to your home. Lighting makes everything look better — including yourself — and all your functions are more easily accomplished.
- When buying a new condo, choose one with a no step entry. Access is great for all people all the time.