The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines “Aging in Place” as the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.
Our primary goal with Accessible Home Solutions is to have happier, more satisfied older citizens living in homes of their choice with control, dignity, and respect — essentially independence. At the same time, we want to incorporate universal design, taking into consideration the needs of multiple generations. Accessible homes that incorporate universal design can adapt to owners’ evolving requirements.
Manufacturers are embracing the aging population by developing products that are not only functional for aging in place but are beautiful as well.
Preparation and planning are key. The process of home remodeling requires time to plan and choose, for drawings to be completed, pricing and alternatives to be considered, permitting, materials ordering, and scheduling to occur.
Unfortunately, most families do not consider any Aging in Place issues or services until a health crisis forces them to do so. Discharge planning describes the scramble to get things organized almost immediately when a loved one is coming home from the hospital or rehabilitation facility. That is an poor time to make home modifications. Emotions are high whether from relief and facing an uphill climb back to health or fear and uncertainty because the current situation is as good as it will get. This is a tough time for the careful planning required of any home remodeling project, and our certified professionals at Accessible Home Solutions are prepared to help with safety assessments and planning.
Wider hallways, doorways and spaces in circulation areas such as the kitchen and living area. This provides the open concept which is extremely popular today and allows for use of walkers and or wheelchairs when needed in the future.
Accessible Entrance and Exits are key to homeowners being able to stay in the home. Again, we want to try and incorporate any type of ramps and or lifts into the natural surroundings so that it blends in and keeps the aesthetic appeal of the home high. The goal is to have zero thresholds.
Technology is an increasingly affordable and accessible tool for Aging in Place. Smart solutions provide security, convenience and communications to all family members. Artificial Intelligence (Alexa and Google Home) is growing in popularity and are great tools to assist with the following:
Bathrooms – according to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (9/22/16), falls are leading cause of injury and death in older adults. In 2014 alone, there were 29 million falls causing seven million injuries and an estimated $31 billion in annual Medicare costs. Implementing zero threshold access and following ADA standards will help with fall prevention. We are fans of the European bath design as it meets the accessibility requirements while providing a modern beautiful bathroom that will enhance the value of the home.
Multi-purpose grab bars are a notable example of incorporating Universal Design and accessibility. Modern styles of grab bars function as towel holders, shelving or toilet paper holders while supporting between 350 and 500 pounds. They come in the latest finishes. Looking at them you can’t tell they are grab bars.
Lighting is crucial to prevent falling – lighting hallways, entryways and steps are all good areas to start with. Pathways can be created with dimmed lights to the kitchen or bathrooms for elders who are up during the night. Lighting can be scheduled and/or controlled via apps and smart home devices. This is another example of UD that will improve the value and aesthetics of the home; today lighting is a key component of any upscale home.