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Are Home Remodeling Plans The Answer To Aging In Place

Talk to the experts about home remodeling plans. Certified Aging in Place Specialists are trained to help.

Home remodeling plans to accommodate a handicap or debilitating disease can be aesthetically pleasing as well. The kitchen designer or bathroom designer who is also a certified aging in place specialist will be able to make many suggestions to make aging in place possible.

Let's talk with such a person.

Jamie Goldberg
19046 Bruce B. Downs Boulevard, No. 93
Tampa, Florida 33647
(813) 810-0467

Jamie, my goal is to help aging individuals make their home their partner as they age. Can you tell me when is a good time to begin to make changes in the home?

I often incorporate those changes into a kitchen or bath when someone remodels such as adding a hand shower and grab bars to the shower and changing the appliances in the kitchen. Other changes can be done as needed, or when someone buys a home.

What are the first steps an individual that wants to remain in their home consider taking to prepare for aging in place?

They should take into account their physical condition, and that of any other residents in the home, and plan for future needs. For example, are they starting to experience joint pain and fatigue at the end of the day? Flooring changes could assist in that regard. Is their eyesight fading? Adding task lighting can help offset that problem.

Can you make some inexpensive recommendations that may be helpful to any aging senior now?

I wrote a lengthy article on this topic for BobVila.com. Here's a link to that whole house-focused article: Affordable Ideas to Retrofit Your Home for Accessibility

Most aging seniors live on a fixed income. Are there any “green” modifications that would help to lower heating, air conditioning costs and water usage in the future?

As appliances fail, many can be replaced with more utility-friendly options. Examples include induction cook tops in place of gas or electric cook tops, water-saving washers and dishwashers, and Energy Star-rated appliances overall.

What are the most important factors an aging senior should consider when planning to age in place?

I would say safety and comfort are the most important. Safety comes from minimizing hazards, like removing polished marble steps from in front of a tub, and adding lights to a stairwell. Comfort derives from creating a space that welcomes its owners, and allows them to function in a way that feels natural and enjoyable. This means different things to different people, of course, but aging in place design doesn't have to look or feel institutional. When I approach a master bath remodel, for instance, I want that room to feel like a resort spa, not a rehab hospital room.

The bathroom is where most of these falls occur. What recommendations can you make to make a bathroom safe for the aging senior?

I would round the edges on all countertops; remove any tub steps; add grab bars to the shower, toilet and tub areas; add a hand-shower on a slide bar, along with a bench and linear drain, if code allows in that region, within the shower; use slip-resistant tile on the floor and look at increasing the lighting. I would also replace a standard toilet with a comfort-height model that could be easier to rise from without balance loss.

I always feel that for every problem there is a solution. Does this apply to making changes in the home using Universal design principles?

In general, yes, but some homes will be easier and more affordable to modify than others.

Can you share with me your favorite new product or any new products that would benefit the readers in the future?

Please see my Eye on Aging coverage of the 2009 Kitchen/Bath Industry Show that's specific to Aging in Place:
Day One Eye On Aging
Day Two On Aging
Day Three Eve On Aging

Can you make some suggestions to overcome the physical barriers in a home to assure a continued quality of life as they age?

Often, steps into the home, or within the house, are major barriers. It is possible, with the assistance of a CAPS contractor, to modify the entryway to a no-barrier option. Two-story homes are trickier. There are expensive chair lifts and elevators. The simplest option may be to move the master suite to the first floor and have able-bodied guests use the upstairs rooms.

Can you share stories and photos of utilizing universal design in an established home that assisted your client to remain in their present home environment?

The couple that hired me for this remodel decided that they want to remain in their home beyond retirement, and wanted to incorporate some aging in place features.

The wife's vanity is lower, allowing for easier wheelchair accessibility if that ever becomes necessary. She and her husband both enjoy a days-end bath, but we removed the steps in front of the old tub, added a wide front deck for sit and swivel entry, air jets for sanitary muscle relief, and blocked the area for future grab bar installation. The floor tile is very textured, for better slip resistance, and the shower now incorporates two shower heads, one on a slide bar, and a bench for seated showering. It also has a grab bar built in, as does the tub.

See pictures here Masterful Bath Update

Thank you Jamie, for sharing your thoughts with my readers about future home remodeling plans.

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