by Adam Mandel
In the previous blog post, I discussed the growing trend of seniors choosing to remain in their homes as long as possible (“aging-in-place”) and the need that may arise to perform modifications in the home to allow the homeowners to age-in-place. In today’s post, I’ll explain how we determine which modifications to make and what are the most common types of recommended renovations.
As a company that specializes in performing modifications to the homes of senior citizens and those with disabilities, we’ve developed a process to determine the specific needs of our clients. With our assessment, we analyze the home environment as well as the client’s physical needs and interests.
In understanding the client’s needs, it’s important to work with the client, her health care providers and her family to not only understand her current physical limitations (mobility, vision, dexterity, etc.) but also how these issues will progress over the coming years. We also want to learn about the client’s interests. Does she like to cook or garden?
Once we’ve completed the assessment, we prepare a client-specific report that outlines home safety issues and our modification recommendations. Common modifications include:
- Widen doorways and hallways to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers.
- Build zero threshold entries to the home (eliminate the need to use steps to get into the house).
- Install zero threshold showers. It’s common to remove a bathtub and replace it with a beautiful roll-in shower.
- Install single lever or hands-free faucets.
- Lower selected counters in kitchens and bathrooms to allow access for seated people.
- Provide space under counters to allow access for seated people.
- Replace door knobs with lever handles.
- Replace knobs on cabinets and other fixtures with easy to grasp hardware.
- Improve lighting throughout the house, particularly in bathrooms and kitchens.
- Replace carpeting with hardwood and tile to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers.
Many of these modifications are basic tenets of a design philosophy known as “Universal Design.” The idea behind universal design is to make things as accessible to as many people as possible in a natural, non-institutional manner. The design should work for both an 80-year old couple as well as a 30-year old couple with a 2-year old child. For example, a wider doorway is not only better for a wheelchair user but is also more convenient for a parent pushing a baby in a stroller.
Most homes weren’t built with the needs of seniors or people with disabilities in mind. However, homeowners can modify their homes rather than being forced to move. If done properly, these renovations will not only improve accessibility and safety but will also increase the value of the home.
Adam Mandel is a co-founder of Independent Living Design (ILD) in Dallas. ILD designs and performs modifications in the homes of senior citizens and people with disabilities to improve safety and accessibility throughout the home. The goal is to allow people to remain comfortably in their homes as long as they desire (“aging in place”). Adam can be reached at amandel@ILDdfw.com or 214-273-7267.