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This summer’s home improvement project could help your family live at home longer. By harnessing the concepts of Universal Design, your next renovation could help you and your family age in place, living independently at home longer than might otherwise be possible.
(Coined in the 1980s by an architect who used a wheelchair, the term Universal Design refers to architecture that helps people live comfortably at home, no matter what their needs are. While its principles are used to make buildings equitable for all people, today it seems to be most often employed in designing homes for the aging population.)
Consider the long view. If your family isn’t dealing with the challenges of a family member’s aging needs now, chances are you will be soon. With the number of old projected to outnumber the young by the year 2020 for the first time in history, taking care of the elderly (if only our own elderly selves) is something most of us will be faced with. Nearly 90% of seniors say they want to live at home for as long as possible, so making your home accessible now is in your best interest.
Even if you don’t plan to stay in your current home when you retire, consider how making it comfortable and accessible for your aging loved ones now could improve their experience while visiting or living with you. Also consider how a quickly aging market will view your home if you decide to sell.
Any way you look at it, renovating your home for aging in place is a smart move, and the principles behind Universal Design can help you get started.
So how can your summer projects help ensure that your home is livable for those with needs related to aging? First, think about the various challenges associated with aging, and consider the way a home shapes your life. (You may realize just how much you take for granted when it comes to controlling your basic activities of daily living!)
Things to keep in mind include:
• Visibility needs. How could diminishing eye sight hinder day-to-day life?
• Wheelchair accessibility. If you required a wheelchair to move around your home, how many places would be difficult to reach?
• Dexterity issues. With muscles weakened by arthritis or other conditions, gripping doorknobs or even cabinet handles can be challenging. How many doors in your home have lever handles?
• Falling, slipping, or tripping hazards. Where in the house could someone have trouble if they drag their feet?
• Fatigue. Can all your spaces, appliances and systems be used efficiently and comfortably?
• Reduced maintenance. When basic tasks become more difficult, what renovations could help reduce the effort of cleaning and maintaining the home?
Here are some ideas to consider implementing in your home—just remember to consult with a professional before attempting any construction.
Read our full tips on the Home Helpers blog at HomeHelpersHomeCare.com!