As more homeowners are making the commitment to aging in place, it is important to seek out new resources to help folks with new ways to transition their home for the “extended stay”‘. Aging in place expert Mary Jo Peterson, CKD, CBD, CAPS (www.mjpdesign.com) noted that design trends toward more open spaces and generous daylight have forced designers to use fewer wall cabinets and the response from consumers is tremendous.
Peterson also points out that more renovations include placing appliances at comfortable heights. Peterson says she used to be a lonely voice encouraging splitting double ovens so each might be placed at a more accessible height, but today, clients are asking for them.
She says beware, however, because this is one of those Universal Design concepts that only works when it fits into the design.
Another source, Certified Aging in Place Specialist, Charlie Hudson of Hudson Remodeling offers these Aging in Place/Universal Design Tips:
- Install bath and shower grab bars. When properly installed, grab bars are effective in helping prevent slips and falls. Typically, they are the first item people turn to when looking to improve bathroom safety.
- Replace a traditional tub with a walk-in shower unit. Wonderful step-free shower units can be created in the same space currently used for a bathtub. Walk-in showers can be installed as prefabricated units or as a custom project using materials like tile and glass.
- Consider remodeling to add a ground floor master suite. This type of remodel not only allows seniors to stay in their own home as long as possible, it can also help those recovering from injury or illness.
- In the kitchen, relocate (or raise) the level of your dishwasher to make loading/unloading easier; install pull-out shelves in lower cabinets for easier access.
- Change hardware throughout the house; using levers or “D” pulls can make it easier for all abilities to open and close doors and cabinets.
- Install handrails along interior and exterior staircases; make sure those areas are well lit as well.
By John Voket