Most of us experience a situation when temporary adjustments are necessary to accommodate the needs of a house guest. Every home can be made safer and more accessible by keeping hallways and pathways clear of clutter. Sometimes that includes removing or stabilizing throw rugs and door mats.
It is also helpful to increase lighting to better illuminate pathways and functional spaces. In addition, it would be thoughtful to provide some seating for those who have difficulty getting in and out of seats that are too soft and low to the ground. It’s always a good idea to incorporate a couple of chairs into your décor with high, firm seating and stable armrests.
At one time or another, many of us may need to provide care for a loved one or aging parent with limited mobility in our home. If this is going to require a long-term commitment, the key to success might be finding the right home with ideal features.
The National Association of Home Builders (nahb.org) is just one source of great information on aging in place and universal design. In short, a new home search might focus on a level entry into the home, at least two bedrooms on the main level, wider doorways and hallways, and bathrooms large enough to allow for walkers and wheelchairs.
Sooner or later, we need to consider the possibility that our own mobility may become limited. Thinking ahead and building or buying a home that can change with you as your needs change could be a good idea.
The phrase “aging in place” has become more common in housing circles today. According to AARP, aging in place means living in your home safely, independently and comfortably, regardless of age or ability level.
The ideal home can be modified as you mature to increase access and safety. They can range from simple modifications to major renovations, such as installing grab bars in bathrooms, modifying counter heights or even adding a first-floor bathroom or an elevator.
Universal design is a related term that maximizes the use of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. The home design has already taken into account future needs thus requiring less modification later. For example, a home constructed to universal design standards would include a no-step entry, one-story living, wide doorways and hallways, non-slip surfaces in bathrooms and tubs, thresholds flush with the floor and even lever door handles and rocker light switches.
Give some thought to how your current or future home needs should be adapted to accommodate changes in life before you need them. A little education now, can lead to better housing choices in the short and long run.