As we grow older, many of us are reluctant to leave them for nursing centers and other assisted living facilities, opting instead to be in our own familiar space.
But as we age, our homes do, too. Renovations can be fun and exciting, but none are more important than those we make to accommodate our physical challenges. This concept is called Aging In Place. However, these challenges don’t just occur as we age; there are millions of Canadians of all ages with limitations. The term Universal Design refers to the concept of renovating homes for people of all ages and all physical abilities to live comfortably despite their challenges. Both terms – Aging in Place and Universal Design – are often used interchangeably since the difference is a fine one.
Some of these modifications might come to mind immediately – wider halls and doorways, lower countertops, higher toilets, to name a few. In this issue of D4’s newsletter, we cover many that are available to you. Every physical challenge requires specific accommodations, and there will undoubtedly be many that won’t be needed in your house. It all depends on the specific needs of the individual home owners.
- Raised dishwasher, if needed
- Side-by-side refrigerator, which is easier to open from a wheelchair
- Removal of kitchen island, or renovation to allow easy mobility around it
- Appropriate height countertops with base cabinets removed for wheelchair work station
- Bullnosed (rounded) corners on all countertops for safety
- Inside and under-cabinet lighting for visibility
- Additional outlets along the backsplash if there are not enough or they’re in awkward to reach locations, for convenience
- Use of lazy Susans in cabinets and on countertops, roll out cabinetry, and open cabinets
- All appliances at safe heights (don’t just think wheelchairs here; a bowl of hot soup coming out of the microwave above the stove can be an accident waiting to happen in unsteady hands)
- Consider wall ovens with separate cooktops for safety
- Illuminated or brightly colored edges to all counters
- Color contrast between countertop and stovetop, as well as change in flooring materials
- Grab bars near toilets and in shower/bath (depending on the style chosen, near the toilet it can also serve as a towel rack)
- Shower seats with easy access to handheld shower head
- Bathmat that suctions to the shower floor or bathtub
- Shower curtain, as opposed to doors
- Walk-in tub – carefully consider this option, as a curbless walk-in shower may provide a better solution
- If keeping a conventional tub, a wide ledge surrounding it may help in maneuverability
- Wheelchair accessible sinks and vanities
- Comfort height commodes (taller than standard)
- Bullnosed (rounded) corners on all countertops
THROUGHOUT THE HOUSE
- One-story home, or at least one story living space without steps to navigate
- Easily accessible storage
- Lever-style doorknobs and faucets, and/or motion activated faucets and soap dispensers
- Room thresholds flush with floor – or as close to flush as possible
- Non-slip but easily maneuverable flooring throughout house (think cork, wood)
- Good lighting and maximized natural lighting wherever possible
- Nightlights throughout the home including non-bedroom areas
- Furniture with armrests for support when getting in and out of chairs and sofas
- Additional light switches placed on walls and at every entrance to rooms
- Intercom system installed in all rooms
- Wider hallways and doorways
- Stair glides, where appropriate for disability and layout of home
- Front loading and adjusted height washer and dryer
- Low maintenance building material
- Low maintenance plantings surrounding the home
- Replacement of gravel with cement for walkways and driveways
- Motion activated lights near entrances, carports and garages, and along any pathways
- Ramps and handrails where needed
While many or all these Aging in Place/Universal Design ideas may make sense to you, we often don’t act on finding a contractor to put them in place until we’ve had an accident at home. Perhaps it’s the stigma of ours looking like an ‘old person’s home’ or being in denial that we’re aging and needing accommodations built into our living space.
Whatever the reason for putting it off, making the decision to have some of these renovations made in your house may be one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make.
Call Mike at D4 Construction in Kamloops to start the conversation. He’s knowledgeable, professional, and a skilled renovation specialist who understands and appreciates the need for Universal Design and Aging In Place modifications.
Mike will come out and help you make remodeling decisions based on the layout of your house and your physical needs. He will be able to advise and guide you toward the changes that will enable you to live more comfortably and safely – and for a lot longer – in your own home.
Call Mike now at at 250-572-4812 and ask him for a FREE, no obligation estimate. You and your loved ones will be so glad you did.