In this article by U.S. News & World Report, the author discusses attractive design solutions for aging in place projects.
“Making such modifications not only helps current occupants but may broaden the market for future buyers when the home is placed on the market,” he writes.
Illustrating this trend, about 3,000 home remodeling and repair contractors have taken the three-day Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists (CAPS) training course.
Therese Ford Crahan, executive director of National Association of Home Builder's (NAHB) Remodelers Council, describes the sensitivity training that contractors must take as part of the program. “The remodelers are required to put a tennis ball in their non-writing hand, put that hand in a sock, and then try and write a check,” she says, simulating challenges that many people with arthritis face.
“Next, we put them in a wheelchair and they have to maneuver around and then, we put sunglasses on them and cover the lenses with Vaseline and then make them try to get around. It's just an eye-opener for remodelers,” she says. “They just don't understand until they've been there.”
According to Cynthia Leibrock, an expert on aging who has turned her Colorado home into a showplace of aging-in-place modifications, if you “really want to stay in your home, you've got to get serious about it.”
She adds that emphasizing the positive aspects of such changes, particularly added safety and comfort, helps overcome resistance. Kitchens and bathrooms are ground zero for many aging-in-place home improvements.
She breaks down improvements into groups, beginning with those that can be done easily and quickly and moving on to more expensive and time-consuming projects that are best done as part of more extensive remodeling efforts:
Do it now:
1. Tape down rugs.
2. Add handrails with extensions to both sides of the stairs.
3. Add grab bars to your shower.
4. Reorganize your kitchen around the tasks you perform.
5. Add offset pivot hinges to narrow doors.
6. Replace your shower head with a hand-held shower on a vertical grab bar.
7. Do an energy audit. (We generally need higher ambient temperatures as we age.)
8. Add task lighting to improve visual acuity.
9. Be proactive about your health—reorganize your house to encourage you to make it fun to exercise and to cook healthy meals. Try steam cooking; a portable steamer costs less than $100. Keep your house cleaner with a place to remove shoes upon entering.
10. Remodel the inside of your cabinets. Add pop-up shelves, lazy susans, pull-out racks, and lighter colors, for example.
11. Add warning systems: Smoke detectors, CO2 detectors, and driveway alerts.
12. Replace difficult controls with door levers and cabinet "C" grips, not knobs; use pressure switches, touch controls, and rocker switches on lamps. To test what works, try to use all controls with a closed fist. Then try to use all of them with one hand.
13. Replace your cookware for safety. Look for stay-cool handles and nondrip edges, for example.
14. You may need a new phone. If you have trouble hearing on your phone, replace it with one that amplifies high frequencies, not one that just increases the volume. If you frequently dial wrong numbers, find a phone with a large, lighted touchpad.
15. Use your house to reduce stress. Add a small fountain that produces the relaxing sound of running water. Keep relaxing music playing at all times. Add speakers which don't require wiring.
16. Buy a comfortable chair that is easy to access and exit, with arms well forward and space to put your feet back so you can lean forward and push off.
17. Increase your security. Add deadbolts to all doors. Block sliding-glass doors when not in use. Consider the many options in security systems.
Do it later: adaptable solutions
1. Install the wall reinforcements, not the grab bars.
2. Install the track and wiring, not the $10,000 stair lift.
3. Add that study or den now and use it later for a live-in caregiver.
4. Install wiring for an automatic door opener in a tight hallway, and add the opener later.
5. Wall-mount cabinets so they can be lowered or raised later.
6. If the laundry is downstairs, wire and vent a closet on an upper floor so you can add a small washer-dryer at a later date.
7. Stack closets on multiple floors to form a shaft for an elevator at a future time.
Do it as you remodel
1. If you are putting in a wood floor, recess that area rug.
2. Use a nonslip finish on the wood floor.
3. Use a drop-down door bottom instead of a threshold (which is a tripping hazard).
4. Plan 4-foot hallways, 5-foot turnaround spaces in each room, and clear floor space for walkers, wheelchairs, strollers, and scooters. Use anthropometric measures to evaluate the route by walking through your house with elbows out to a 3-foot width.
5. Add more windows and skylights with low-E thermal glass. This will increase ambient light levels. We may need a fivefold increase in ambient light as we age.
6. Replace your cooktop with a safe and fast induction model.
7. Build a seat into your shower.
8. Replace your oven with a safe, side-hinged model. Add a pull-out shelf below.
9. Replace your washer and dryer with elevated, front-opening models.
Are you thinking of renovating or making some simple changes to your bathroom to make it more accessible? Let us help. Village Craftsmen offers a THRIVE Bathroom Design Safety Program to not only help you age in place, but thrive in place. An in-home, experienced rehabilitation technician will:
* LISTEN to your concerns regarding bathroom safety
* ASSESS your bathroom with the Thrive Safety Protocol
* PROVIDE you with recommendations for your safety & fall prevention
* ARRANGE for a quote to install safety enhancements if you desire
To learn more please complete the form on this page or call 330-896-2000.