Guide to Garden Sheds as a Solution for Aging in Place

Last modified: January 23, 2024

Guide to Garden Sheds as a Solution for Aging in Place

Log Cabin Summerhouse viewed from the front

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Log Cabin Summerhouse viewed from the front

Sasha Log Cabin with one double door open in modern garden

Preference for Living in Own Homes

Most people want to remain living in their own homes for as long as possible.

A study by the Strategic Society Centre found at least 80% of older homeowners prefer to stay where they have built their lives. The difficulty is the bulk of housing stock in the UK is not designed with the elderly in mind.

Importance of Local Social Connections and Mental Well-being

Older people don’t want to lose the benefits they’ve built up around their homes. Things like strong local social connections are especially important to the elderly. They have grown attached to the area and friends where they live.

Physical health is an obvious issue in older age, but mental well-being is vital, too. To ensure people remain well, both in mind and body, they need opportunities to pursue the leisure activities they have always enjoyed.

Challenges for Elderly to Pursue Hobbies and Interests

However, continuing to pursue hobbies and interests in houses not equipped to support them becomes difficult as they age. Steps, moving around, and even standing without support can be hazardous when a person becomes infirm.

Garden Buildings as Solution for Aging in Place

How, then, can we ensure people continue living fruitful lives, enjoying the interests they’ve built up over a lifetime in their own homes?

Garden buildings, like sheds, summer houses, and log cabins that are designed specifically for older people may be the answer.

Adaptations for Homes

Many people are aware of adjustments that can be made to homes to help in later life:

Why Garden Sheds Make Great Adapted Homes

What they may not realise is many of these adaptations work equally well in a shed specially set up for the pursuit of hobbies and interests.

In fact, building an adapted shed may be easier and more economical than making expensive adjustments to a home that wasn’t designed for them in the first place.

Building Garden Sheds for Older People

Garden sheds can be built with most, if not all, of the features listed above. Moreover, because they are specifically constructed with the older person in mind, wheelchair access, natural lighting, non-slip flooring, and handrails can be built-in features.

Of course, it is important to ensure good heating and ventilation systems form part of the shed’s features. This brings another benefit. As the sheds are smaller than houses, they typically require much less fuel to keep them warm and comfortable. This can be a great advantage for older people living on a pension, particularly in these days of soaring energy prices.

Tessa Wooden Summerhouse with large glazed windows and all doors open

The Benefits of a Garden Building for the Elderly

Another plus is that a shed is naturally built on one level. This means no stairs, frequently a hazardous place for the elderly. Even many bungalows have steps in them making garden sheds a much safer option.

If you are helping an older person with the construction of their shed, it’s important to listen to their wants and needs. This will be their daytime home, so it is vital it becomes somewhere they’ll be happy.

Help with constructing a garden shed can be found here.

An “aging in place” garden shed or summer house should be, as a minimum, large enough for an elderly person to use throughout the day to pursue their hobbies and interests.

However, it can become much more than that. Bathrooms and small kitchens can also be part of the shed. This means the older person can remain there for longer periods of time, able to go to the toilet and make themselves tea, coffee, and light snacks. This helps avoid having to go back and forth in their homes throughout the day.

Garden sheds are perfect for a range of activities including gardening, woodworking, listening to music, reading, or even just sitting and watching nature. They help an elderly person to feel secure whilst they pursue things that give them joy in life. Additionally, younger relatives get great peace of mind knowing that their Mum, Dad, Grandad, or Granny are safe.

The sheds can also help socially. Both relatives and friends can visit the older person for a chat or even to help with hobbies.

The Benefits of a Purpose-Built Garden Shed Over an Adapted Home

As we age, the body naturally becomes weaker and infirm. Activities which were easy when we were younger, are more difficult and can be dangerous. Housing in the UK is typically not built with the elderly in mind which increases the risk of falls and injuries. Adjustments to make homes safer can be expensive, and they frequently alter the appearance of the house significantly.

A purpose-built shed can be constructed to include these features as part of the design. This means they don’t require adjustments as any necessary items are part of the structure. They also naturally avoid any need for steps which can be very problematic for older people.

Ensuring Comfort and Well-Being in a Garden Shed

Garden sheds can also be designed so they look elegant and capture as much natural light from the outside as possible. As older people tend to remain indoors more than younger friends and relatives, ensuring a shed is well-lit from outside is important for well-being.

It is also cheaper to keep a garden shed warm. As fuel costs continue to spiral, this can be of huge benefit to older people living on their pensions.

There are certain things we all have to accept as we age. We’re no longer as strong, quick or agile as we once were. However, a life without the joy hobbies and interests bring should not be one of them.

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