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Creating an Outdoor Space for Your Retired Parents

Porch SwingCensus data tells us that seniors aged 65 and older will make up 20 percent of the population by 2030. Whether you’re looking ahead to the day when you’ll finally be able to retire, or you’re just hoping to create a comfortable space for your live-in parents, the following will help you design a universally usable outdoor living area.

Outdoor living spaces can add usable, spa-like space to any home, and they can be affordable to add on to current structures. For instance, simply by adding a cedar decking area, you can create a new “room” where Mom or Dad can kick up their feet for some power dozing. Read on for more suggestions on how to create the perfect outdoor living area for your retired parents (or yourself, if you’re into the whole “age in place” thing).

Make it Affordable

While a sun porch or fully screened-off room can be quite expensive, cedar decking with a pergola or patio cover is affordable and equally enjoyable. Accessorizing your outdoor space can also send prices soaring – unless you shop at thrift stores and end-of-season sales, that is.

Create Easy Indoor/Outdoor Access

Cedar decking is excellent for older homeowners because it provides a flat, stable surface where walker and wheelchair users are just as comfortable as more able-bodied individuals. This is the epitome of age-in-place design; it’s appealing and accessible to all ages of people.

As you create the perfect senior outdoor living area, make sure to eliminate clutter. This will maximize flow and remove any potential tripping hazards. You’ll also want to install a wide doorway so as to allow wheelchair access. At minimum, age-in-place patio doors should be 42 inches wide.

Finally, select lever-style handles, which are much easier for arthritic hands to operate.

Take Advantage of Sunny, Warm Spaces

As people age, they are less able to efficiently conserve their core heat. To create a comfortable outdoor space for your senior parents (or the senior version of yourself) arrange seating in naturally sunny, warm areas. Most yards contain microclimates of warmer or colder temperatures. Observe your yard to find the most pleasant, warm areas, and place your cedar decking or other outdoor structures there.

Bring in Plenty of Natural Materials

Natural materials complement outdoor spaces by dint of blending in with their surroundings. Even if you don’t re-landscape your whole yard, adding just a few natural elements can make any outdoor space more attractive.

  • Wicker furniture is comfortable, durable and fairly low maintenance. Plus it’s light enough for many seniors to move themselves.
  • A water fountain immediately creates a peaceful, Zen-like haven. Your fountain doesn’t have to be elaborate as long as it provides the soothing sound of moving water.
  • Potted plants may be easier for seniors to maintain because they are somewhat elevated off the floor. Plus, potted plants add a lush feeling to any outdoor patio or cedar decking. Lake Oswego and Portland are home to some of the greatest plant nurseries in the world; take advantage of these local resources when decorating your cedar decking.
  • A sisal or jute rug will bring a sense of unity to an outdoor room.

To conclude, senior-friendly outdoor spaces are universally accessible, designed to maximize warmth, and replete with natural, attractive materials. Cedar decking is an excellent material to feature in spaces for older people, with one caveat: It requires regular maintenance. So if you’re planning on including cedar decking in your aging parents’ garden, arrange for ongoing maintenance through a local expert in cedar decking. Lake Oswego and Portland are home to several exceptional decking companies, including our own. Here at Rick’s Custom Fencing & Decking, we have decades of experience to help you create the perfect outdoor living space for an aging parent.

[ Photo by: zieak, on Flickr, via CC License ]

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