This month, we look at health and how it can be impacted by the design of your house.

A 67-year-old friend lives in a house she loves, which she bought at age 58. It’s open and spacious, with great views out to the surrounding mature trees and yard.

It’s a place she likes to call The Holler, in the ravine of Johnson Creek.

The driveway is a steep slope. There are stairs to get in via front door or garage and stairs up to the kitchen, any bathroom, the master suite. You get the picture: a contemporary split level.

She’s currently recovering from a second hip replacement. It’s more painful than she expected, and she’s missing work and stressed.

She’s struggling with the design of her bedroom as she cannot get down the stairs to the rest of the house without help, plus she wants access to her medications by her bed.

She’s depressed at missing out on seeing spring roll in, as the layout of her bedroom deprives her any view while laying down. Her last surgery was in winter, so she didn’t think about missing out on seeing spring bloom.

Consider the different situation she would be in if she was in a single level house. She could lie anywhere and look outside. She could move to various parts of the house without traversing stairs.

Her healing is being affected by the design of the house in terms of physical movement and it has impacted her mental health, causing depression from that lack of access to nature. Depression negatively impacts our immune systems and health in general.

While she loves her house she has made the decision to sell as soon as she can.

The emotional impact of your house’s design is often overlooked. Accessibility impacts the company you can keep and can enable loved ones to come and you to go out – or not.

If you know you will be in her position at some point, here are suggestions.

• Prepare mentally for spending a lot of time alone

• Think about supplies for things you might want to do while on your own: binge watching TV shows, craft projects, books, etc.

• Stock up on a couple weeks’ worth of highly nutritional food.

• Make sure you have a supply of personal items, prescriptions and over the counter medicines.

• Consider an attitude of gratitude and for deep contemplation of issues you know you could use resolution around.

• Make plans with friends and family in advance regarding visitors and phone calls. Lean on your community. People love to help and contribute.

Consider your house carefully and plan for your options should mobility become an issue, temporarily or for the long term.

Rachel Hemmingson facilitates age-related housing choices and changes for older adults.

971-207-2806  | rachelhemmingson@gmail.com