Wednesday, June 22, 2016

"Second And Vacation Homes Need To Provide Accessibility Also"

Much - but not all - of the 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 doesn't negate or minimize their desire to remain living in those homes long-term and to have their homes age well with them. By extension, the same can be said about their vacation or seasonal homes. They need, above all, to provide safe and convenient access.

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.


When people are staying in their vacation, recreational, or occasional use homes, they deserve to feel as safe and find them 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 less frequent use, it's even more important that these homes provide safety and accessibility.

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 tends to 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 lakefront, 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. Opening cabinets and using closets might be issues as well.

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 accessbi0ilty and visitability concerns as other homes.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, MCSP, MIRM, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.