Options for Overcoming the Obstacles
Aging in Place is defined by the Center for Disease control as “the ability to live in one's own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level."
As discussed in our previous article, the first step in this process is to honestly assess your current living situation taking into account your health and the four vital functions that are required for you and your house to be in sync:
1. Front stairs
Carol Marie DeRienzo, RN, BSN, CAPS, CHM, UDCP, The Nurse Carpenter, president of Solace RNovations, Inc. (www.solacern.com) Our mission is by using the Eye of the Carpenter and the Heart of the Nurse, to develop customized solutions for all ages and abilities that fit your individual needs and preferences to help you stay in your home more safely and comfortably as long as possible.
- Can you enter/exit your home safely?
- Is your bathroom accessible and usable?
- Is your kitchen accessible and usable?
- If you answer yes to either 2 and/or 3 then ask - is it usable with or without assistance?
Once you have determined what is making your home uncomfortable to you, you can start to research what options are available to make your home comfortable once again
Being able to get into or out of your home is an essential part of enjoying your home and there are many options to help you depending on your situation. Listed are just a few:
- Landscape the slope of the property to allow for no stairs.
- Install a railing on one or both side of your entrance stairs.
- Add a portable threshold ramp if just one small step.
- Install an outside chairlift or a removable ramp
- Add a 5’ landing with overhead protection for easy turning.
- Add additional lighting to illuminate the walkway and entrance.
- Widen the entrance to a clear 34”-36” opening
- Install a lever door handle possibly with a keyless entry
- Automatic door opener, similar to garage door opener
- 42” width whenever possible
- Install railing down one or both sides of a long hall, if wide enough to help with balance
- Install and second hand rail on stairs
- Install chair lifts or elevators to safely reach upper/lower floors
- Add lever handles to all doors
- Add additional lights and night lights to illuminate the hall at night
- Widen the door to a clear 34”-36” opening to allow for ease of entry with assisted devices or 2 people and add a lever handle.
- Install a slip resistant floor such as Ceramic Tile (with a coefficient of friction greater than 0.06 when wet), Vinyl flooring in either sheet or tiles or a Rubber floor.
- Add a comfort height toilet: either by adding an adaptive device or installing a new higher toilet.
- Install a pedestal sink or a vanity that is open below for ease of access.
- Add transfer chairs to ease access to bathtub.
- Change the tub to one with an easy access door or remove it and install a no or low threshold shower with bench seat.
- Add fixtures/faucets with lever handles and anti-scald devices in both sink and tub/shower units
- Have Grab bars, which now come in a variety of styles and finishes, installed in all areas of the bathroom by a professional to ensure safe usage.
- Add additional lighting and night lights.
- Install slip resistant level floors such as wood with a satin finish, ceramic tile, Vinyl sheet/ tile, or Cork.
- Vary the height of the cabinets and countertops with easy to use handles.
- Install pull down or motorized upper cabinets, or open upper/lower shelving with no doors.
- Add appliances that are easy to use such as: refrigerators with French doors/ bottom freezer, refrigerator or dishwasher drawers, ovens with a side hinged door.
- Install wall oven and dishwasher to ease of use height. Microwave on counter or in a lower cabinet with a pull out shelf below for placement of hot food.
- Lower cooktops making sure controls are reachable without having to cross a hot surface.
- Add additional general and task lighting.
Some Additional thoughts regarding Whole House safety:
- Install rocker light switches and lower switches and thermostats to 48” off finished floor.
- Raise outlets to 18” off finished floor.
- Installing a whole house alarm with additional technology such as: camera monitoring, remote controls, movement sensors.
- Add a Personal Emergency Response System.
- Stove top fire suppression system or monitor that will automatically turn off the stove.
Next in our series will help answer those questions: Aging in Place: Remodeling Today for Tomorrow –Your Resources