Aging At Home: The First Step

Deciding to stay in your own home, to age gracefully without moving in with children, or having to move to a new town or even state to find a place to live that suits your physical financial needs as you age, isn’t only a question of health these days. It’s a practical issue brought on by the economics of recession health care services. If you have parents, you are familiar with the changing physical needs that occur as you age. If you are planning a remodel, you will want to consider both the simple more complex ways to make sure your home is a sustainable living environment – for you, for others who may come to live there in the future, should you sell.img_0692

In my world, we call this Universal Design, it allows use of the living space by the largest number of people uses. For example, while a walk/roll-in shower is primarily designed for hicap or senior access, it also works for rinsing the dog the little ones after a walk on the beach!

Suzanne Mintz, president of the National Family Caregivers Association, suggests your first step is to “Make a very clear list of your accessibility needs make your wish list.” * My first consideration for my clients is always their Safety. When we meet for our Design Consultation, I explain that, in every discussion that we have, when there is an explanation of why something must be placed a certain way, or a clearance allowed, it almost always comes back to a safety issue, such as Emergency Egress, Fall Prevention, Lighting, Security Accessibility.

Here are simple examples of each:

1) Emergency Egress: Change the door hinging, or remove the doorstop for wider swing.

2) Fall Prevention: Grab Bars in bathroom near toilet, in tub/shower; extra hrails on the staircase, a rolling chair in the shower or laundry room.

3) Lighting: Add lighting to bottom top of stairwells, showers.

Lever Door Hardware
Lever Door Hardware

4) Security: Create access points in rear or side of home, don’t advertise limited accessibility to the neighborhood with a ramp to the front door. Use garage entrance, add a French or Sliding door in the rear of the home.

5) Accessiblity: Change door Knobs to Lever Hles…this will even help you getting into the house when your arms are full of books, groceries dry cleaning!

Next post:  More on Home Renovation for Aging In Place…

*Source: Ann Cameron Siegal – The Washington Post February 21, 2009