In many cases, we are living in homes that were built by contractors for resale. Not many of us have had the luxury to design in all the features we’d like in our homes, features that will suit us as we live our lifespan. Some modifications can help, but also there are purchase decisions for appliances to consider.
So, let’s start with the easy ones, like the Washer & Dryer. Front loading models are very popular today, but bending over and getting inside for the very last sock can be a problem for those with mobility issues. Most brands, including Bosch, Whirlpool and Frigidaire make pedestals for all their newer models, and can retrofit them to older models.They range from 11″ to 17″, depending on the brand. The other solution is to pull the machines out, and have your contractor frame in a raised platform at just the right height for you, cover it with linoleum, and your washer and dryer will be much more accessible.
Another place to ‘right height’ appliances is in the kitchen. One popular solution is a lowered cooktop with the controls on the front. If you have room to make this modification, and lower this part of the countertop with the adjacent required landing space, it really makes things easier for shorter people, or someone sitting in a wheelchair or using a walker. The second appliance that should be considered is the configuration of the refrigerator. A side-by-side refrigerator freezer is a much better choice, giving access to both the freezer and the refrigerator from a sitting position.
Just a couple of notes about the fridge while we’re on the subject! Many people place the eggs in the refrigerator door as they are designed with a special case to hold eggs. But it is not the right place as the temperature at the refrigerator door is higher than other parts of the refrigerator and fluctuates with frequent door opening. This can result in loss of quality as the eggs are susceptible to changes in the temperature.
Countertops should be smooth to allow you to slide rather than lift heavy pots and pans. Cabinets can also be prepared for someone with a progressive illness by specifying removable base cabinets for future wheelchair access.
Finally, a Trash Compactor is a friendly appliance, it allows you to minimize the amount of trash generated, and if at all possible, include recycling bins as cabinet pull outs.