Friday, August 18, 2017

"Begin At The Beginning To Create A Renovation Solution"

In creating aging in place solutions for people - regardless of their ability, physical requirements, or budget - we need to gather some information about how they use their home now.

We start with the home itself and look at how it is constructed, its overall size and layout, how the rooms connect with each other, and the overall flow of the space. We are interested in how people navigate in the space and get from one activity center in the home to another - such as the kitchen, bathroom, TV room, sitting porch, den, study, or bedroom.

We must determine how they use various aspects of their home, which areas of the home are the most important to them in terms of where they spend the majority of their waking hours, which parts of the home are not that important to them, which areas might as well not even be there (which we might be able to use by taking some of this space for expanding into areas used more frequently), and how making modifications will enhance their overall quality of life in their home and the general enjoyment of living there.

It's important to learn what their home will not allow them to do that they feel is necessary. We might find that we need to construct an additional room or rooms (if there is the space to do this), reconfigure or reallocate existing space, or enlarge a particular space such as a kitchen, porch, bathroom, or family room by taking space from adjacent rooms or removing built-ins that restrict how the space can be used. Perhaps there is a hobby that cannot be pursued or enjoyed as much as they would like due to the way the current space is designed.

There might be general lighting or electrical service issues, where the space that they want to use for a specific activity is too dark or insufficiently lit to allow them to use it effectively. Maybe there is not enough natural light available because the windows are not large enough or plentiful enough. It could be a wiring issue where the additional lighting that is needed or required cannot be supported or without more circuits or outlets. Maybe the activities that are desired need more appliances and the wall receptacles to support them.

We need to find out what people are interested in doing in their home that they presently cannot do at all or cannot do to the extent they desire - or perform that activity safely. Then, our challenge is to help them determine how this can be done and to gain agreement on doing it. It could be that they just need more space or need it laid out better for such basic activities as dressing and grooming, cooking, eating, watching TV, or pursuing a hobby. They may need a bathroom makeover.

It might be that there are rather simple ways to accommodate their interests, such as clearing out storage items, moving furniture, or removing cabinets that might be infringing on a particular space. The flooring might be interfering with ease of movement within the home. We might observe or detect other ways a space can be enlarged or improved by moving activities from one room to another or by installing pull-out or pull-down shelving, tables, or beds to be available when needed but essentially removed from the floor space when they are not needed or required by returning them to their storage positions.

Depending on the current layout of the home, their budget, and the characteristics of their homesite, adding a garage or auxiliary structure in the back yard - or enlarging or reconfiguring existing buildings - might provide the space they are seeking as well for their activities.

We will look at their physical abilities and how they need to be addressed or accommodated in any type of remodeling that is done. Then we can match our observations with their needs, desires, and budget to create the most successful solution possible for them.


Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-Master Instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

"There Is No 'Right Amount' Of Universal Design Features To Include"

Since we know and appreciate just how good universal design elements are for a home, we may tend to get a little too enthusiastic about suggesting what needs to be in a home and not be sensitive to their budget or needs. We could make someone feel as though they have come up short in not including enough when they may have done a very good job with what they could handle.

Whether it's new construction or the remodeling of existing homes - to accommodate a specific need, a perceived one, or just to create good design that can be functional and useful regardless of who is in the space at any given time - anything that can be done with a universal design application rather than for a specific one will create features that have substantial benefits to the owners.

On the one hand, it would seem that having a standardized list of features to include in a new construction home or in a remodel might be the answer. This would eliminate the subjective element of deciding what to include, how many features need to be added or addressed, and the budgetary factor. It also could mean that homes would be over-designed by making them include features that aren't needed or desired.

In fact, there are some features that aren't appropriate for every home because some only apply to multi-story homes and others are based more on personal preference within a range of choices that are acceptable. Others, such as elevators (again applicable to multi-story homes or those with a basement) require a significant budget. Such an expenditure, while important and recommended when it can be done, would take the place of several others that could be installed or completed for that amount of money.

The type (in terms of terrain and elevation change) and size of the homesite on which the home is situated is also a major determining factor - affecting approach walks, steps, porches, driveways, foundation, and other factors just to someone to the front door.

In some cases, there might already be some basic universal design treatments present such as lever door handles and rocker light switches. There could be digital thermostats also. Many people don't even think of these as anything special - and that's the point. They are universal design features that are used so frequently that they have gained general market acceptance. Actually, when they aren't present, they are more obvious and noticeable than when they are.

Even if a builder, homeowner, or renter did nothing more than just already have or just decide to add such basic features as lever door handles and rocker light switches, although we would prefer them to have many more features, we would still say that their homes incorporate some universal design components - because they do.

This is where we get into the argument of just how many features being used in a home constitutes being described as universal design - two, five, ten, twenty, fifty, one hundred? There are dozens that could be used, but how many really need be included?

It doesn't have to be, nor should it be, an "all or nothing" proposition where a home is only considered to be universal design by us, other professionals, and the marketplace if it meets a certain threshold number of features or includes certain "mandatory" or required elements - according to us or commonly accepted standards.

In fact, as design professionals, we might not agree anyway on what features should be used in a particular home, which ones we personally would recommend, which we would lobby against using, and how we would prioritize the features we would want to see based on someone's budget.

There is a long list of possible universal design features and treatments that can be used or included in a home, and few homes are going to have everything included that we would like to see. Therefore, we should strive to have as many features used as someone's budget and personal tastes will initially allow - even if it's just a handful for now. They can always add more later.


Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-Master Instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

"Linked In Has Many Benefits For CAPS Professionals"

Social media is a fact of life. It's part of our culture. Some of us use it more than others, some like it, and some don't. As aging in place professionals, it doesn't even matter if we like it or not - it is something that can help us promote our business, connect with the marketplace, and establish ourselves with strategic partners that we want to engage to help us to deliver our services effectively to our clients.

In terms of building and growing our aging in place business, some social media sites may be better for us to use than others. Part of it depends on what our prospective clientele is viewing. Some sites are more photo and video oriented, while others have more text along with photos or videos. It's up to us to decide where to devote our time in creating and posting content that we think our existing and prospective clients and customers - along with business relationships we are trying to establish or nurture - would like to see.

Many of us are familiar with sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest - primarily because we use it personally rather than for business. Nevertheless, these can be strong sites for our businesses. One site that is often overlooked in crafting a business marketing strategy is Linked In. For any of us where this is the case, we need to take another look at it.

Linked In is one of the most well-known and oldest of the social media platforms. It has millions of users. It likely is the number one site for business-to-business connections and activity and is a very strong search engine as well. It is quite underutilized by CAPS professionals.

Linked In is arguably the number one ORM (online reputation manager) where people read our profiles and see endorsements, recommendations, and solid information about our background (for those who use these features). It gives us credibility in a very big way - especially with consumers, potential referring professionals, and others we want to connect with us. It serves as an independent third-party resource that publishes information about us. True, we supplied most of it and created the framework for others to endorse and recommend us, but it's still out there online for the world to see.

Linked in has many moving parts that showcase our credentials, skill sets, accomplishments, work history, certifications and awards, endorsements, and additional content. It can also host our YouTube videos and SlideShare presentations for additional visual content and impact.

Consumers may find us here, but primarily Linked In is the place for us to look for and attract strategic partners that we to use to deliver our services. As we look for other CAPS professionals that we want to reach out to or people that possess the training or expertise that we need to engage - regardless of where they might be located - we can build our network. We can find people in our immediate service area that we thought about or were previously unknown to us also.

This also is useful when we are expanding inot new markets or when people contact us who require services in areas where we don't provide them. We can search and find someone who is interested in a referral from us.

Having a Linked In profile may be second only to having a good website. In many ways. Linked In serves as a website. It provides solid information for people who want to learn more about us before engaging or deciding to do business with us. Consumers certainly can find us on Linked In - it is social media after all, and it's free for anyone to use - but out major thrust is going to be in creating business relationships.

If Linked In is something that has been on the edge of the radar and really something that seemed very important, it's time to reevaluate and boost our online presence with a strong Linked In profile.

Then, there are the groups on can join and participate in, such as "Aging & Accessibility."


Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-Master Instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

"What Aging In Place Is - And Is Not"

Aging in place is a subject that frequently is discussed, but there are two widely different views as to what it encompasses. The first seems accurate. The second, while contextually sound, is flawed in its premise.

In the global sense, aging in place simply means residing in one place for a period of time - at home with your parents as you are growing up, in college housing, in the military, in your first apartment, in your first actual home (or townhome or condo), in a move-up home, and on through as many homes as you live in during your lifetime. Aging in place in its basic sense is staying where you are for a period of time - and hopefully making the best of it.

We think of aging in place as people remaining in their forever or permanent home, and for most of what we talk about in the area of aging in place, this is true. Still, people are aging in place from birth, wherever they are residing at that moment.

The divergence comes when people begin discussing moving from the last home - however long it has been occupied and however well it served the needs of the occupants - into a nursing, retirement, or aging facility. Then the thought advanced is that people age in place from that point. While this technically is true, it is contrary to the basic premise of aging in place successfully.

True aging in place, as we envision it and promote it, is remaining in one's home without needing to move out of it to go anyplace else. Straightforward.

Aging in place has no time limit. It's not for any foreseeable period of time - it is indefinite and presumably and potentially for the remainder of a person's lifetime. The only thing that would prevent this would be an illness or condition so grave that it could not be addressed or treated in the home environment. Otherwise, someone can remain at home and have any care that might be required administered to them in their home.

Therefore, as aging in place professionals, we have a couple of serious challenges that we can act upon. First, we can educate people on how they really can remain living in their homes, safely and independently, without ever needing to move. Second, we need to let people know that we can help them with modifications - minor or more serious - to help this become a reality. Some people as they age are going to remain in relatively good health and require no specific medical attention. Others are going to have various degrees of physical (mobility or sensory) or cognitive limitations or difficulties that will need to be addressed with various home modifications.

After someone leaves their forever home, the mission of aging in place (helping to remain living independently) has passed because now they are either in or one step closer to a dependent environment. While this can fine for those who make this choice, we are concerned with keeping people in their own homes. The whole idea is to make a move unnecessary - for a variety of reasons.

People have a very large emotional attachment and bond with their forever, long-term, or permanent home (depending on how it is referred to). Asking them to give this up can be psychologically traumatic. Then, there is the disposition of their personal property and the home itself. While they may be able to retain some of their possessions, it won't be the same, and it won't be in their home. There also is the financial aspect of making the move and the separation leaving familiar surroundings that they have grown to know and love.


Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-Master Instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Monday, August 14, 2017

"Removing The Moat Around Our Castle"

It's been said that a person's home is their castle - a place to retreat to, to block out the rest of the world, and to retain relative safety. Speaking of safety, most castles had a defense system in the form of a moat encircling the perimeter of the walls to keep invaders from getting inside.

We don't have a literal moat - except after very hard rains in some lower lying areas - but we still might be keeping people from approaching our homes. We might even be making it difficult for us to get to and then through our own front door. 

The concept of a moat lies at the heart of the idea of visitability. The idea of having a moat is to prevent people (especially attackers and intruders) from getting too close to the castle entrance. When the castle wanted to allow its own members or people it knew to enter, the drawbridge was deployed.

Visitability is the opposite approach. It means eliminating anything that prevents easy access to the front door - by anyone. It is a permanently available drawbridge from the street or driveway to our front door. Unlike the moat separating unwelcome people from the castle entrance, we want to make homes inviting and welcoming. There is no one who is intentionally being kept away - at least from the front door.

Whether it is the occupants of the home, a neighbor, someone invited over for a visit (such as for a party or a dinner, to watch a game, or play cards), someone who drops by occasionally, or an out-of-town relative, all who approach the front door should be welcome and find their path unobstructed. Anything currently existing that is contrary to the message deserves action to eliminate or mitigate it.

There are many factors that could be preventing or interfering with direct, easy access to the front door of a residence. It could be a simple as low hanging tree branches over the walkway or sand, gravel, or leaves that have found their way onto the surface of the entry sidewalk (from the street, driveway, or both). Grass or weeds could be encroaching upon the walkway from the edges or in the expansion areas between the sections of the walkway. There could even be some low spots where water pools after a rain or use of the sprinklers,

At the front door, there could be stairs to negotiate which make it difficult ("moat-like") for some people. They will have a hard time getting past this. Creating a low rise or no-step entry - even if it is at a door other than the front one - is an important priority for adding visitability to the home. Anyone with knee or hip issues or who uses an assistive device will find steps to be a major challenge and deterrent to entering the home. 

Good lighting at night, solid and non-slip footing on the stoop or porch, and plenty of room on the porch or stoop on which to wait while the entry door is opened and access is granted are important aspects to creating a feeling of welcome for this or a home also.

While our homes can be our figurative castles in terms of being a welcome retreat for us to return to each time we leave and venture out into the world, they should provide no barriers or restrictions to gaining access upon our return. The same applies to anyone who visits - invited, expected, or not. We cannot afford to create or allow any artificial impediments to anyone approaching our homes - including us.

As aging in place professionals, this is a challenge we should take seriously and work toward creating a solution - even when there are specific issues that need to be addressed on the interior of the home. In some cases, this might be the only work we recommend or complete for people. There are so many homes where easy access and approach are not available.


Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-Master Instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

"Both Universal & Adaptable Design Can Have The Same Look"

Two types of design that are very effective for helping people age in place are universal design and adaptable design. What's interesting about these two concepts is that in many cases the end result looks exactly the same. What varies is the intent or purpose and the timing.

Universal design is proactive. It begins before there is a specific need to accommodate people of various abilities, heights, ages, and other physical factors. Those people may already live in the home, or it may be a broader approach to accommodate people who might be visiting the home for any number of reasons.

The central premise of universal design is that essentially everyone can use a home, its interior space, and all of the components contained within it. All of the controls, furnishings, passageways, shelving, hardware, bath fixtures, kitchen appliances, eating and serving areas, windows, flooring, closets, cabinets and drawers, and the remaining features in a home should be accessible – at least in part – to everyone regardless of their ability, strength, or stature.

There could part of the design that is difficult for some people to use, such as higher shelving, but there should be plenty of other options available to everyone – smaller people, people seated or using a wheelchair, people with limited reach or limitations in the use of their hands, or those with limited muscle strength in the arms, shoulders, back, or legs.

This is the great part of using universal design. It takes the guesswork out of planning for who might be using the space because it really doesn’t matter. Nearly everyone will be comfortable in the space and able to function well. With few exceptions, people living in the home, as well as anyone coming into the home for a single or occasional visit, will find it usable for them.

As for adaptable design, the casual observer likely could not draw a distinction between what was done or why without a little background. Take for instance someone who no longer can stand unaided at the sink to wash their hands, get a glass of water, wash the dishes, prepare food, or clean up after a meal. They must rely on support from their walker or other types of a device like a cane or crutches. They might need to sit on a bench, or they might be using a wheelchair.

In this instance, the traditional sink base cabinet would provide a barrier for them because they could not get close enough to the sink to use and access it well. Having slide-under space that could be used by anyone at any time from a seated or close-proximity position would be a solution that could be done to adapt the space for those people who require it now. However, it also could be done now, with no immediate need, to have it available for anyone (occupants or visitors) who might like to use it this way.

A similar approach would be to remove or modify the toe kick and cabinet floor and then install a track for the cabinet doors to open and retract along – making the front of the cabinet totally accessible with no doors open into the floor space. Again, this can be either an adaptable or universal design solution, depending on when it is done and whether there is an immediate need for it.

There are many other examples of how something that is done to adapt a space to satisfy current or changing needs – on an as-needed basis – could be complete in advance as a universal design treatment. Both types of design provide greater access, more functionality, comfort, convenience, and safety. Consider universal designs that could be done now to accommodate developing changes before they are even necessary.


Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-Master Instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

"How Does Someone Begin Aging In Place?"

There are so many articles about how someone should prepare their home to get ready to age in place - as if this is some conscious action that they can decide to do like learning to water ski. There are even more articles on identifying when a person is ready to age in place, what they need to consider, and what the alternatives are for them.

Simply put, this preparation is largely unnecessary although there may be some value in planning ahead and looking at the bigger picture. In the short term, people begin aging in place by just continuing to live in their present home. It happens. They are doing it by definition. It doesn't require anything more than this.

As aging in place professionals, we want people to enjoy their living environment and age gracefully along with them. Nevertheless, we can't tell someone how they must live or how they need to modify their home to make it more accessible, safe, or comfortable for them. Even if we did, not everyone would heed our recommendations. We can only advise, and only then if we are asked.

There are many homes that have too much stuff in them, seem poorly lit based on what we consider to be good overall illumination, have flooring issues, may not be particularly well-ventilated, and present other issues that we would love to be able to rectify. The occupants may like it that way, may not know that it can be any better, or just don't want to consider any changes. They are aging in place in an environment that we consider less than ideal, but it is what they have chosen for themselves.

People cope with existing living conditions, adapt to their living space (even with physical limitations that suggest home modifications would make their lives so much easier), and in general live with and through what they have. While this segment of the population definitely could use our help, reaching them is another matter. Just finding them and having a conversation with them is a challenge. funding issues might be present also, but there are many resources available that might help.

The one factor that we need to be aware of and then be prepared to deal with is that a person's home often is a reflection of them and their personality. We need to be careful how we approach and identify improvements that we think need to be completed. We risk insulting or offending people if they don't understand our motives, which are simply to help make their lives easier and more enjoyable inside their homes.

While the people who choose not to do anything to improve their homes and just remain in them is one definite segment of the aging population, there are others. For instance, what about the people that realize that their homes could use a little help now they know they are going to be remaining in them? This is where we come in.

There are many people who need help - specifically our help, from a little to a lot - because their homes have not kept pace with their advancing years or because they have limiting personal conditions that make using their home more challenging. Their needs range from improving general accessibility to meeting larger, specific physical needs they might have.

People who need the kind of help we can provide may not know what is available or who can provide it. This is where networking through strategic partners and referring professionals can be a huge help. Normal, targeted marketing also is a plus. We need to let people know what is available and how to contact us to begin that discussion - and ultimately an agreement for services.

Aging in place can be a lot easier, safer, and more pleasant for them with a little assistance from us.


Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-Master Instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Friday, August 11, 2017

"Ready Or Not, Here Comes Aging In Place"

Question: what do people need to do in general to prepare for aging in place? Answer: maybe nothing. Maybe nothing more than any of us have been doing all along.

Aging happens, and so does aging in place if we let it. There are at least four different ways to get ready for successful aging in place without making any major renovations or improvements: (1) do absolutely nothing and just keep going, (2) do nothing more than one would do in the normal course of home maintenance, (3) get rid of the clutter and known or obvious safety issues, (4) provide greater accessibility in passageways and work areas.

Of course, if there is a specific sensory, mobility, or cognitive requirement that needs to be met or addressed, that goes without saying and forms the basis of any modifications that are performed to allow someone to remain in their home more comfortably. Even at that, many needed improvements are not made for budgetary reasons or because people choose just to live with their condition and make do with what they have.

As for people without any significant medical issues that would require more attention in a renovation that just safety, comfort, or convenience areas, many of their concerns are addressed over time through normal maintenance. When they find something broken or not meeting their expectations, they replace it. It might be worn carpeting, faded window coverings, drawer pulls that are too small or showing signs of wear, cabinet doors or facing that is severely dated, appliances that are showing their age, insufficient room lighting, and similar items throughout the home. They aren't waiting for a major overhaul to complete a new look but accomplish it a little bit at a time, over time. This is budget-friendly for them also.

Some people recognize that they have amassed a large amount of boxes of various sizes, shapes, and contents, clothes that have gone out of style or are too large or too small that are otherwise in good condition and wearable, sporting goods that are no longer used, obsolete electronics (video games, fax machines, old computers, cameras, cell phones, watches, and the like), small appliances that have been replaced with newer models or that require some repairs, and various odds and ends.

They also realize that such items are taking up more than their fair share of their living space so they set about culling what they can from the accumulation to open up closets, attics, garages, basements, and passageways. They literally are making their homes more accessible by increasing the available and functional living space without making one physical improvement.  

Some people recognize the need to have more usable space inside the four walls of their home so they make some improvements on their own or hire it done. They primarily are interested in opening up spaces to make them larger, less confining, and more usable - more accessible. They don't have a particular need in mind necessarily other than making it easier to use those areas of their home - hallways, bedrooms, laundry areas, kitchens, or family rooms, for instance.

None of these scenarios have people doing anything specifically to get ready to begin aging in place. First of all, they already are aging in place. Secondly, they are adapting their homes (or not) to accommodate their own needs and desires and not specifically to prepare for future living conditions or perceived needs.

Many people, with and without physical needs, can and do age in place without making significant improvements to their homes to prepare in advance for remaining in their homes. We like it when we are involved to help them, but many people choose to do nothing or very little to their homes as they age in place and continue living in those homes.

The fact is that people can choose to modify their homes to get ready for what they think will serve them well over the next few years (or longer) of remaining in that home, but many people just cope with what they have. While there certainly can be, there really is nothing that must be done in advance to get ready for aging in place. 


Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-Master Instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

"Seasonal Homes Provide Accessibility Challenges & Opportunities Also"

We all live in a primary residence, but some of us have a seasonal, recreational, or vacation home - a condo in the mountains or at the beach, a cabin or cottage at the lake, or a second home - that we use when we want a change of pace. 

Throughout the summer months, many people have used their homes at the lake or beach, or gone off for a few days in the mountains. Some of those homes will be used less during the colder months that are coming, and some will get just as much if not more use then.

Traditionally Labor Day weekend, which is just a couple of weeks from now, is the transition period between summer usage and cooler weather occupancy. While the need to get away doesn't change, the reasons and the activities we look forward to enjoying or pursuing at our vacation or seasonal home might.

Nevertheless, when people are staying in their vacation, recreational, or occasional use homes, they deserve to feel as safe and find those dwellings as comfortable and convenient to use as the homes they occupy most of the time. Because they might be less familiar with their seasonal homes than their main residences due to the infrequent use, it's even more important that these homes provide safety and accessibility.

Much - but not all - of our aging in place discussion and emphasis is on the permanent or long-term home. But, what about those vacation, seasonal, vacation, or held-for-occasional-use homes? Do we just forget about safety, accessibility, and visitability for these homes?

Just because people are not residing in their permanent or forever homes at the time they are using their getaway properties doesn't negate or minimize their desire to have them provide the same type of living environment for them. They need, above all, to have safe and convenient access to and within those occasional use properties.

People may use their retreats as often as every week or as infrequently as a once or twice a year, with a whole range of other usage possibilities.

We are interested in people being able to enter and move around freely in their homes. Being able to reach cabinets, shelves, controls, faucets, switches, and other controls also is important. This is true for the main occupants of the seasonal homes plus any guests or other family members that they might invite to share their homes with them.

Even before getting inside and moving about in the interior space, getting into the dwelling needs to easy also. Because the property isn't used every day, it might be easy to forget some of the nuances involved in negotiating driveways, sidewalks, steps, porches, and entrances between visits. Inclement weather (especially ice and snow) can complicate this.

In addition, there may be guests that have been invited to stay with them that are unfamiliar with the layout of the homes, and they may have mobility challenges in using the homes well. 

Often, occasional use and seasonal homes are not designed or built for people to occupy them full-time so they may not have doorways or hallways as wide as their main homes, and the layout may not be as convenient, spacious, or accommodating to movement in the homes. Also, there could be more people occupying the seasonal homes at the same time than is the case in the main residences - family or friends that have been invited to stay for all or part of the vacation stay in their seasonal homes.

While not universally true, seasonal homes (especially lake-front, cabins, townhomes, condos, and villas), generally are smaller and more compact homes that typically are occupied by more people at the same time than is the case for people in their permanent homes because they have invited others to share the experience with them. This compounds any accessibility concerns that might already exist.

Visitors and guests who have been invited to join the main occupants of the vacation or seasonal homes cannot be expected to know as much about where things are located in the homes or how to operate various controls or access cabinets and closets.

People may not think of their seasonal homes as needing accessibility makeovers, but this is an opportunity for us to provide a valuable service for people. Seasonal homes are likely to have similar accessibility and visitability concerns as other homes.


Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-Master Instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

"There Is Something So 'New' That Paint Gives A Home"

It's amazing how something so simple in concept (but so often hard to actually execute well) can actually make a huge improvement in a home. We're talking about paint. Paint has the magical ability to transform walls, furniture, and anything else to which it is applied. It literally changes the appearance of it and our perception. It has the power to affect our mood also.

Summer is winding down, and kids are preparing to go back to school. Many people (owners and renters alike) were able to use part of their vacation this summer to improve the inside or outside of their home (and in some cases, both) by applying paint.

It's interesting that one of the first things that is done when some purchases a home (other than new construction) or rents an apartment is that they paint it before moving into it. They want to achieve a fresh, new look before any of their furniture or other possession arrive. Paint is that powerful. It personalizes a place. It covers up any trace of what was there previously. It makes the residence their own and helps to remove any traces of the previous occupants.

One very easy aging in place renovation that people can undertake themselves if they are able, or that they can have done by someone like us, is to have their home or apartment painted. Notice that rentals are included in this also. Paint livens up a place and changes one's outlook about being in the space. We can experience this in our own homes also.

Fortunately, the exterior of the home doesn't need to be done or addressed every year, but maybe the trim needed a touch-up or fresh coat of paint applied. Perhaps we or our clients changed our minds about the color of the trim because we (or our clients) found something we or they like better, or another house nearby used the same or a similar color and we or they want a little different look. Possibly some recent repairs have been made or are scheduled for the fascia, soffit, siding, or window trim, and that needs or will need to be painted.

It could be that something was added to the front of the home or repairs were made that suggest new paint be applied - caulking around windows, a new entry door, a new storm or screen door, improvements to the entry porch, and similar types of changes.

If it was a particularly harsh winter or spring, the trim may need to be touched up or painted to seal and weatherproof areas that have suffered from earlier rains, sleet, snow, or ice. The same would be true if it has been an unusually rainy summer that has prevented some of the painting work from getting done.

Then, there is the indoors. This is not affected much by weather conditions and can be done at any time. Whether it's an accent wall in one room, a bedroom or other specific room in the home, the ceilings only, walls only, or the entire home, paint works wonders in transforming the look of a home and improving our attitude about it.

The method of applying the paint - brushed on, rolled, padded, or sprayed - is not important, but the end result is. Take any room or area of the home, or anyplace on the home exterior (even all of it), and once it's painted it takes on a new look. Not unlike getting a haircut or new hair style or finding an outfit that we feel really good about wearing, paint does this for our homes and those of our clients. It updates and sets it apart. It makes us notice the homes in a fresh, new, and different way - a better, updated way.

The paint can be just a new application of the existing color to brighten and refresh the area in question, or it can dramatically change the appearance with a bolder or brighter shade of the color that was there. It could a totally new color.

Regardless, of many walls are done or what colors are used, painting is an activity that has so many positive benefits and requires no construction to complete. As such, it is a relatively inexpensive improvement.


Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-Master Instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.