Thursday, July 19, 2012

Easing Mobility Challenges With Age In Place Remodeling


As expected the trend for seniors continuing to live in their own homes as they age is on the rise.  Seniors are not willing to sacrifice their independent living so easily these days.  The option of managed care, assisted living and moving in with adult children is not appealing to the aging generation in 2012.  With all of the available options within the home improvement industry to help create safe, barrier free living environments who can blame them.  

Many adult children are also seeing the benefits of allowing their aging parents to remain within their own homes.  Fostering independence keeps seniors active, mobile and excited about living life, things that often become stagnate when venturing into a care facility.  It also allows a more manageable approach to caring for aging parents.  It does not become a burden to any one sibling and their family.  

Age in place remodeling starts with small tweaks that can be made as rooms are naturally remodeled in the course of home remodeling. This makes the transition into barrier free living simpler.  Simple steps such as updating faucet handles as well as door pulls and levers can make accessing rooms and cupboards easy for aging hands.  Plus this type of renovation is non-invasive and really can be done slowly as home updates are being made.   

It is really beneficial for homeowners of all ages to start incorporating universal designs into their home improvements, creating a unique stylish home that is safe and comfortable for years to come.  Below are some items to consider when planning home renovations.

·         One issue to consider is the width of doorways and the homes hallways.  In new construction you will often see hallways that are substantially wider than homes built earlier.  This helps to give homes a more open feel.  Wider hallways keep the home from feeling tight and closed in.  Another benefit for barrier free living is that mobility devices such as walkers, wheelchairs and canes are able to be used without worry.  The same is true with doorways that are widened.  It allows for easy turns to be made in and out of rooms. 

·         Ramps are another update being made to homes today.  I know you instantly imagine hospital ramps when I say that but today ramps are incredibly stylish and versatile.  Not at all like the aluminum hospital style ramps, handicap ramps today are made of a variety of materials including aluminum, wood and mixed metals.  Stairs can also be designed along side of ramp systems as not to hinder those wanting the use of stairs as well.  It is best to make the actual step a bit wider and about seven inches high for ease of use and safety.

·         The bathroom is one of the most important areas of the home for privacy and independence.  Special care should be sought out when designing the space.  Consider adding a shower that does not involve stepping in.  Barrier free surrounds are available or for a more sophisticated approach you can use textured tiles to surround the shower areas, add a built in bench and soap dishes left at a lower height.   

·         Another issue in the bathroom area is often the actual toilet itself.  It is best to replace the toilet with a toilet that is taller than an average commode.  This is a great way not to single out the user.  Many aides for the bathroom are invasive and really public as they are used over the actual toilet.  This is often embarrassing for the user.  Higher toilets with added grab bars give a more attractive, less institutional feel to a bathroom area.

There are many stylish updates to the home that you can make to improve your home to help create an independent, barrier free living environment.  As your parents start to age and you see them remodeling hint to them that some of the above can be put into place keeping the home stylish yet upgrading the safety for them.  Seniors and those losing their mobility will benefit from the unsterile look and feel of their home.

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