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It’s easier than you think…

We have to face it, we are all growing older. Now, while aging is inevitable, it’s not inevitable that we will be forced out of our homes when we become less active. With some careful planning, we can create a home that will continue to work well for us throughout our lives. A home that’s user-friendly for the elderly and the disabled doesn’t have to look like a hospital. More and more products designed for disabled people have broken the “utilitarian” design mold and are now very functional and attractive. Plus, the simple structural modifications won’t even be noticed. Here are some renovations to think about.

Make Things Easier to Reach

  • Raise electrical outlets and phone jacks from 12 to 18 inches above the floor; people in wheelchairs will find this height much more accessible.
  • Lower electrical switches and thermostats from 48 to 42 inches from the floor; again, this provides easier access for people seated in wheelchairs.
  • Move the bathroom medicine cabinet to the side of the bathroom vanity. Cabinets over the sink aren’t practical.
  • Have multiple light switches installed; for example- at the each end of rooms or hallways etc.
  • Lower racks, shelves, and poles in closets to make them more accessible.

Make Moving Around Easier

  • Widen doors from the standard 30 inches to 36 inches to accommodate a wheelchair.
  • Open rooms up by eliminating walls between several rooms for a more wide open space.
  • Install chair lifts or elevators if necessary to provide access to other levels of the house.
  • Make sure the flooring in the kitchen and bath is made of a non-slip finish, and is in a matte tone to diminish the glare of overhead lighting.

Make Things Easier to Use

  • Replace standard door knobs with levers that are easier to maneuver with arthritic or disabled hands.
  • Consider replacing double-hung or slider windows with crank-style casement windows.
  • Install grab bars and railings (consider textured ones for a better grip) near the toilet and in the bath or shower stall.
  • Use single-lever faucets with balled tips for the sink. These allow people to control the temperature with one lever.
  • Make work areas easily distinguishable by using contrasting colors; this is especially important in the kitchen. This makes it easier for eyes that don’t see quite as well. Install kitchen cabinets that feature roll-out drawers and easy-to-grip “C” or “D” handles. A flat glass-top stove is easy to clean, and makes it easier to remove pots and pans; make sure all appliance knobs are in the front.
  • Don’t overlook the world that remote controls have introduced. VCRs, CD players, garage door openers, iPad controlled systems including touch-command lighting, ceiling fans, and even microwave ovens place the pleasures of everyday life at anyone’s fingertips!  And, a whole new world can be opened with the installation of voice-activated equipment.

Want more information on how to adapt your home?

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