Remodeling with an Eye to the Future
Apr 1, 2007, 1:45 p.m.
Want to live at home as long as possible? "Aging in place", also called universal design, is the fastest growing trend in the remodeling industry. These remodeling elements are designed to help you stay safely in your home as you age.
According to AARP, some common universal design features are: No-step entry; One-story living; Wide doorways (32-36 inches wide) to let wheelchairs pass through; Wide hallways (36- 42 inches wide); Extra fl oor space (allowing people in wheelchairs have more space to turn).
Consider a home-remodel so that you can live on one level if necessary. Universal design in the bathroom can include "comfort height" toilets, reinforcement grab bars, easy-enter showers and handheld showerheads. Install lever handles throughout the house (for people with arthritis, pressing down is easier than turning a knob). Kitchen appliances may need to be adjusted for easy reach (or the space between 20 inches and 44 inches above the fl oor to a depth of 20 inches away from your body – according to researcher Margaret Wylde).
Other suggestions include:
using drawers instead of cupboards when possible; use hard surfaces for fl ooring, or a low-pile commercial carpet (these fl oors are easier to navigate); install a shelf outside the front door so you can put down packages while searching for keys; install track lighting.
For more information visit www.aarp.org, or call your local Master Builders Association and ask about their members who are "Certifi ed Aging-in-Place Specialists (CAPS). Master Builders of King and Snohomish Counties can be reached at 425-451-7920 or log onto www.mba-ks.com and search for CAPS.
This article appeared in the April 2007 issue of Northwest Prime Time, the Puget Sound region’s monthly publication celebrating life after 50.