Thursday, July 6, 2017

"Non-Urgent Aging In Place Solutions Can Be Quite Inexpensive"

There are various types of aging in place solutions that we can create, depending on the needs of our clients. Those who are living with progressive conditions are going to require more aggressive solutions and are going to find them to be relatively more expensive than general treatments for safety or aesthetic objectives.

Nevertheless, for people who have a specific progressive condition or are just concerned about aging issues, the most common aging in place renovation that is reported by homeowners and remodelers is the installation of grab bars. This could be as few as a single one in the master to as many as several in the master and other bathrooms in the home.

Many people feel that if they install a grab bar - even if it is done incorrectly by themselves - that they have fulfilled the basic safety requirement for having an aging in place home and can check this off their list has having complied. Others view the grab bar as the definitive issue that keeps them from doing any home modifications. Still, it is the most commonly reported improvement that is done. Whether these are vertical grab bars (or assist bars, safety bars, or assistive devices, which they also are called) located near the commonly used entrance to the tub or shower, horizontal bars inside the tub or shower, diagonal bars inside the shower or tub area, or horizontal bars near the toilet - or a combination of them - is not known.

There are many other commonly completed items in a home - by the homeowner, a family member or friend for them, a handyman, or a contractor - that help people use their home more successfully as they age. Some homes already have these, but some common treatments being installed are lever door handle, single lever faucets (at least in the kitchen), rocker style light switches, and higher toilets. Most of these items are inexpensive and do not take much time to complete.

A huge item that can improve any home - and the cost for doing so has dropped dramatically in the past few years - is replacing incandescent and florescent lighting with LED lighting. The lighting output is more uniform, the cost to have the bulbs illuminated is quite low, and the bulbs have a very long life - some rated at over 20 years.

There are many other aging in place renovations or treatments that can be done by the homeowner or along with a designer, OT, or consultant. Most of these won't require any construction. There are plenty of construction related projects that can be done, but here are some that are very low budget and easy to do.

Glare elimination is huge. Go throughout the home - at various times of day - and look for places where overhead lighting in a room is being reflected in awkward or uncomfortable ways off shiny or glossy surfaces. Moving or adjusting those surfaces, re-aiming the lights (if possible), or adding accessories where it can be done will offset the glare issues and improve vision, comfort, and safety. Look for sunlight or reflected sunlight from vehicle glass (parked in the driveway or on the street, for instance) that comes through windows and then bounces off other surfaces. This will change by time of day and the seasons. Adding window treatments or moving objects in the home can help. 

Footing is another area that deserves attention. It might be time to replace the actual flooring surfaces in some rooms, but short of this, look for area rugs or runners that can be a source or tripping or slipping. Remove them or tape them down well so there is little chance of them slipping or curling. If additional cushioning is needed in front of the sink or cooktop while using them, they are mats specifically designed for this that will not present the safety issue commonly associated with rugs that aren't anchored very well or at all.

Adding additional lights in a room, using voice activated or motion sensitive controls, or changing the paint colors can help as well. Depending on what is selected, some choices are going to be more expensive than others. Still, many of these are just typical decorating concepts that people complete in their home from time-to-time. The idea is now they can be done with an added purpose and intent.

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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 stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.