Friday, March 29, 2013

Aging In Place - Home Remodeling for Seniors

I was recently asked about “Aging in Place” remodeling. What should be planned for, how to make it work and what the heck did it mean?
Your home can adapt to you as you age, allowing you to “age in place”. As eyesight dims a little, core balance begins to fade we may want our home to adjust to fit our new and changing realities. This is no different than being able to “Child Proof” a home when we have toddlers or create the place where the “kids hang out” when we have teens. There is a basic checklist produced by the National Assoc. of Home Builders, you can read it at: http://www.nahb.org/generic.aspx?genericContentID=89801

Summing up its ideas:
Reduced mobility equals opening and turning areas large enough for wheelchairs equaling doors resized to 36” wide, hallways to 42” and turning areas in the home with a 5’ clear circle, free of any obstructions. Add to this flat threshold transitions, flat exterior surfaces, non slip flooring materials, steps converted to ramps where possible, sturdy, and easy to use handrails at all remaining steps and the use of wheel chairs becomes feasible.
Finish material selections, both interior and exterior want to have ease of maintenance as a featured quality. Clad metal or fiberglass windows and doors reduce maintenance greatly on a home. Levers instead of knobs on doors, large handles cranks for window operation, paddle style electric switches and even electric door locks can make the home for easier to use. There is no reason not to lower the height of those switches to 48” to allow easier access from a wheelchair.
In the bath and kitchen thermostatic or pressure balanced faucets and shower fixtures with lever handles are readily available in all types of styles. Showers can be redesigned to allow easy roll in or at least no step ramps. Styled sturdy grab bars are useful in the shower and toilet areas. Cabinets can be designed for wheel chair use at sinks and with roll out shelves to make access easier. Using glass for cabinet fronts or even open shelving can make finding kitchen items simpler. The height of counter tops can be reset. The microwave and oven heights can be reconfigured so they are not too high or too low for access. The advent of raised step washer and dryers has lessened the burden on your back when dealing with wash loads.
As eye sight or coordination begins to falter a bit; think of adding a different color to counter top edges and stair treads. Added windows, in strategic locations in the house will provide greater day lighting to the home. Where too bright of sunlight is an issue, electric window shades and drapes are an option. There are many new lighting fixtures out today. Many feature low energy use LED and color balanced fluorescent bulbs. More lights of greater efficiency will not be adding to your electric bill. Adding lighting to closets and other storage areas can improve a home. Motion detecting lighting controls can also make your home easier to live in.
For multistoried homes getting between the floors can present a challenge. Elevators are not just for estate homes anymore. Think about having stacked closets in your home to make a future elevator an easy installation. Laundry chutes and dumbwaiters are inexpensive ways to get typical work loads through the home without lugging items up and down stairs.

There is a large volume of information available on the web regarding Aging in Place. Feel free to call us, here at Wardell Builders, any time with questions or even a walk through your home to take a look at possible improvements that can make your home continue to suite your lifestyle for many, many years.
 
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Wardell Builders | info@wardellbuilders.com  | 858-793-4190 | Solana Beach, CA 92075