As I was watching my sixteen month old grandson the other day navigate around his living environment, it dawned on me that he would also benefit greatly in a home with universal design features. Riding his first little bat mobile over different flooring and raised thresholds, and getting to his new swing set by way of multi level decks and steps can be quite the challenge for a little person. In today’s world, most seniors want to stay in their current home as they age, and as that happens, having a home that is already universally designed can be a big plus. Wouldn’t that be a great shift in our thinking as we tackle future remodeling projects? At Stay at Home Renovation, it is our mission to promote accessible living environments for every stage of life. There were some great design ideas in the current issue of Remodeling Magazine that make for smooth sailing in any age group. See pictures below.
2.Raised/Chair Height Toilet
3.Lever door handles
4.Railings at stairs
6.Contrast at stairs and floor changes
8.Easy access kitchen storage
9.Adjustable height hand held shower head
10.Easy access closet storage
These design features can be incorporated into a new design/remodel or added later. In my experience with my own aging parents in Minnesota, they have decided to add some features now in their new bathroom project and wait to add other features. The most important part for the aging is independence and accessibility. By thinking about these 10 very simple design features, you can successfully age in place with ease.
From the first time I visited my grandmother after moving into a nursing home with my mother, I was told “don’t ever put me in a nursing home!” That phrase was heard each time we visited my grandmother thereafter. It’s hard to make that promise to a loving parent since we don’t have a crystal ball to see what the future of growing old will be.
Fortunately, my 82 year old mother is in great shape and spirit. Recently selling her home in California she decided to finally move after my father’s passing almost 9 years ago. Her reasoning was that she didn’t want to live in that house all by herself anymore, plus she had given up driving. She had made new acquaintances at the Senior Center and became fast friends with a group of ladies that encouraged her to check out a 55 Plus community where many of them lived at in the same town.
I’m happy to say that after a short wait, something in that community came onto the market and she found a smaller home to purchase. Literally taking matters into her own hands, she is currently in “the process” of rejuvenating and updating it. My mother "the supervisor" is making important decisions, while she can, undertaking an extensive re-model working with carpenters and contractors. Vibrant and happy, and putting in long days , she’s working to make her new home fit so she can “age in place”. She’s tearing out the bathrooms and replacing fixtures, removing carpeting and laying hardwood floors. The house came with a wheelchair ramp and is a one story. As her friends help her paint, she stops to make lunch for them and her workers. What an undertaking for an 82 year old! Her vehicle is now a golf cart, she lives on a course but has never played. A "Senior" bus comes by and will take her to wherever she needs to get to around town. I’m proud of my mother that she has taken charge of her future and for now is living independently with universal design updates in her new home.
Lake Country Builders in the Twin Cities is a member of NAHB, National Association of Home Builders and are proud to be Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS).
Visit www.nahb.org and click on Aging in Place. There you will find topics, checklists
and directories of Remodelers & Professionals, like Lake Country Builders, who are dedicated at making your house a home for a lifetime.
The Stay At Home Blog is dedicated to improving knowledge and education regarding aging in place and to creating a safe living environment for seniors who choose to live at home.