Its a scant 8 days now until my birthday. I’m greeting one of those “milestone” birthdays that day, my 50th. I’ll have attained the half century mark. Officially, that will make me an antique now.
Not sure I am ready for that status right now. But milestone birthdays do make us pay attention to what is going on around us. This is one of those birthdays to make us think about our “twilight” years as we reach that hill we’re supposed to go over.
In the meantime, back at the ranch…
It’s a time in our life when we have to face reality–we’re not going to get younger, slimmer, faster, smarter, or in better shape. This is it, baby…and it’s going to get worse (and harder) from this point forward.
Great. I needed that…NOT!
But for the small house fan, we need to do some assessing, especially if we haven’t designed or built our new small home. I’ve noticed something about truly tiny houses.
They really LIKE “ship’s ladders” for accessing the sleeping area.
That’s fine…when you are twenty something. But seriously, think about it. How many senior citizens do we know that can daily climb a ship’s ladder to go to bed? Safely? Dependably? Every night?
And what about those falls, strokes, heart attacks, neuropathy, arthritis, hip replacements, knee replacements, and other complaints that we know we’re going to end up confronting..sooner than we want to?
Lofts are cool when you are eight. They have intrigue when you are fifteen. They are good sleeping spaces at twenty something. At thirty something, it’s do-able. At forty something, we grin and bear it. But at fifty, we’re going to have to admit…designing a house that way is plain stupid if we intend to live in it. Oh it’s fine to have a loft accessed by that ladder, to even use it as storage space or guest quarters for our grandkids…but it’s not okay to use it for our own sleeping space because sooner or later, we’re going to be incapable of going up and down that ladder.
Sooner or later, the most likely “whoopee” that happens on that bed is going to be when we open our eyes and say “Whoopee, I made it!” We don’t need the same things we did when we were younger. Okay, so the sex life is going to last a lot longer than a lot of things, but the climbing 6 foot of ladder rungs is a foolish design move for anyone who intends to remain in their home past age fifty five.
I’m not saying that I won’t be able to climb it, I’m saying that it’s not wise to design our only or primary sleeping space as a ladder accessed loft. It can be a raised sleeping platform, a murphy bed, or whatever…but not a loft. We need to start thinking in terms of a fate most of us hope to escape…that of an elderly, partially incapacitated person navigating with the aid of a cane, walker or wheelchair even in you own home.
Even a murphy bed might not be wise. Can that bed be set up by an elderly and physically challenged person without much strength?
Each and every design factor needs to be considered as though you were going to be handicapped by age the first day you move into the house.
It isn’t a case of “wishing” it to happen, or even hoping that it will. It’s a case for being practical. Imagine trying to navigate your life while pushing a walker ahead of you. Can you get through doorways? Can you walk alongside the bed to get into bed? Can you get to the toilet and shower? Can you cook a meal? Access the refrigerator? Reach the dishes? Where would you store your food? How would you do your laundry? How would you go in and out of the house? Where would you park your car? How would you get groceries into the house?
None of us like to think about a future with infirmities and disabilities, but the reality is that most of us will cope with age related problems more from age 50-100 than we did in the first half of that century mark. As we plan our small house lifestyles, we need to consider the problems of advancing age with even more consideration than we did for our children when they were young.
After all, we hoped to survive our parenting years.
We know that we won’t survive the infirmities of age.