What can you do in each of the different areas of your home to allow you to live a long, safe life? New materials and new technology make adapting your home to fit your lifestyle easier than ever.
Kevin Taylor of Taylor Made Custom Contracting, Inc. based in Jarrettsville, Maryland, is a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist through the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). People with this designation complete “qualifications required by AARP and the National Association of Home Builders to perform home solutions for aging and disabled clients.”
According to the NAHB, “The universal design concept for aging in place means creating attractive yet functional living spaces where people can live or visit regardless of their age or physical abilities.”
Taylor provides this checklist of items to consider when preparing your home for tomorrow:
—Consider a ramp for easier access.
—Check the sidewalk or driveway for safety.
—Install motion-detector lights with or without a timer.
—Consider a new doorbell with a camera so you can see who is there. It can be linked to your smartphone.
—Install electronic locks; some allow you to create a special code for police or firemen to enter.
—Switch to lever handles, since they’re easier to use than knobs for those with arthritis.
Throughout the house
—Change your lighting to LED lights. These are adjustable, can change color, and can be on dimmer switches.
—Include motion detection so lights turn on automatically when someone enters the space.
—Modify and widen door widths for better accessibility.
—Change to lever door handles and outward-opening doors.
—If you live in a multi-level home, you may want to set up a ground-floor master suite.
—Eliminate loose rugs.
—Use hardwood or vinyl flooring to make maneuvering around easier. A low-cut carpet may also be used.
—Eliminate any clutter along paths through the residence to prevent trips or falls.
—Use non-slip tiles on the floor and in the shower.
—Install grab bars. Don’t use towel bars because they cannot support your weight.
—Change faucets to a single handle.
—Tilt or lower the medicine cabinet for easier access.
—Add lights in the shower or tub area.
—Make sure the door to the bathroom opens out, not in. If a person falls in the bathroom, an inward-opening door would prevent entry by anyone assisting.
“You have many options for showers,” Taylor said. “A walk-in shower with a low, four-foot threshold is less expensive than a roll-in shower or a barrier-free one. You can also add a seat and lower the handles for the shower faucet and/or spray. I recommend shower curtains rather than doors for safety, and add an exhaust fan with a humidity sensor.”
—Upgrade ovens and stoves so controls are in the front.
—Modify the heights of counters, dishwasher, and microwave for easier access.
—Install a single-handle faucet. New ones have touch control.
—Change your cabinets to include roll-out trays and shelving and pull-out storage.
—Replace bulbs with LED lights.
“Every kitchen should have a fire extinguisher and a smoke detector,” Taylor added. “New detectors combine smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and have a 10-year battery life. Detectors in your home can be interconnected so if one goes off, they all do.”
There are lots of other little adjustments you can implement to make your life easier based on your personal preferences,” Taylor continues. “The number of innovations in the building and construction field are growing every day, especially with automation, so you can use your phone or tablet to control parts of your house or apartment. Just make sure you have the basics you need to keep you safe and healthy for the rest of your life.”