Sunday, February 25, 2018

"Many Aging In Place Solutions Are Relatively Simple To Do & Can Happen Over Time"

Sometimes when we are contacted to evaluate a home and create and aging in place solution, there is an urgency. Someone may have recently suffered a traumatic injury which requires a quick response from us. There might be a safety issue in someone's home that needs our immediate attention. There might be a progressive condition that is making life uncomfortable or challenging for someone that we need to address quickly.

Often, however, aging in place concerns that people have are less urgent and solutions or treatments for them don't have to be created all at once. This is helpful for people with a limited budget that can only afford to have us do a limited amount of work or for people attempting to do some of the work themselves.

When it comes to home renovation and remodeling, there often is a tendency to go all-in and attempt to schedule and do everything at one time - whether the work is being done by the owner or by us or someone that we bring to the job. That's fine, but it may not be necessary or advisable that it be that way. We may be able to take a more strategic approach and accomplish what we need to in a more budget-friendly, less intrusive way for our clients.

Each situation and need is different, but consider the possibility of doing a little bit at a time spread out over a few months - especially for people doing their own work or when we, as aging in place professionals, want to schedule several smaller sections of a more complete job to afford our clients less disruption of their living environments and daily routines. This is especially helpful for people who are retired and spending much of their time at home rather than at the workplace.

We might even consider beginning with our own homes to try out some of our renovation solutions so that we can experience what it takes to complete the jobs for our clients, to have pictures of the before and after that we can share and use for illustration purposes, and to be able to honestly say that we have made such improvements (such as the ones we are recommending) and installed them in our own homes. This would apply more to universal design and visitability type improvements rather than something involving a special need unless that applied to our household as well.

Some work is going to relatively simple and straightforward to complete. It can be done by the occupant of the home if they are capable and knowledgeable of how to complete the work. Otherwise, it can be scheduled as the first phase to be completed by us or a handyman we select (unless this describes us).

Items that fall into this first phase of relatively minor - but important - work would be swapping out all of the toggle-style light switches for rocker, push button, torch, or motion activated ones. Switches that use dimmer switches or pre-selected timers also are fine to install at this time. This requires only a simple knowledge of electricity.

Replacing lightbulbs throughout the home - and it can be done over a few weeks if budget is a concern - with LED bulbs and fixtures will create more even and dependable lighting. The color output and the amount of lumens vary by the bulb selected and can be done on a room-by-room basis to accommodate individual preferences and how they use the various spaces in their home. The main thing is to offer as much light as possible in a space and eliminate shadows or areas of low illumination.

Replacing all door handles that currently are the round knobs or something other than levers with those single lever handles. Of course, these come in a choice of colors and finishes to suit the tastes of the occupants. If this already has been done, move onto the kitchen cabinets and drawers and replace the handles and pulls with something relatively easy to grasp and use. Be careful of sharp or extending edges on the handles that might catch on skin or clothing if someone brushes against them.

There are many other smaller projects also (such as replacing door handles with the lever-style and changing out cabinet hardware for easy-to-use styles) that can be undertaken by the owners or by us to begin making a huge difference in the quality of our clients' homes.


Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place 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.