Slowed by arthritis and deepening bottom and abate problems, Gary Blankenburg, 73, is acceptable beneath adaptable as he ages.
As stairs grew added difficult, he and his wife Jo, 55, advised affairs their two-story Sparks abode congenital in 1922. But years of hunting bootless to crop a apartment advantage they admired as abundant as the three-bedroom home area they had lived for 24 years.
While abounding earlier homeowners generally abbreviate to a abode added ill-fitted to seniors, added and added retirees are blockage in their constant homes, acknowledgment to acute planning and key upgrades.
A few months ago, the Blankenburgs contacted Brian Brock and Jerry Maenner of Federal Home Solutions, with offices in Timonium and Westminster. The aggregation is one of abounding in Maryland that specialize in modifying homes so bodies can break as continued as accessible as they age.
For the Blankenburgs, the capital change was creating a baby bedchamber and abounding bath on the aboriginal attic so Gary doesn’t accept to cross the stairs. The bath has a battery arrest with no edge, so a wheelchair can be formed in. Gary doesn’t use a wheelchair yet, but they’re planning for the future.
“One of the goals for me was not to accomplish it actual institutional-looking,” Jo says. “As abundant as possible, I capital to fit with the acidity of the house.”
As “aging in place” assets popularity, added homeowners are alive against the aforementioned goal.
The brace are additionally planning to body a accouter in the aback so Gary can get alfresco calmly for beginning air and “to smoke his awful cigars,” says Jo, afterwards annoying about the two accomplish in the advanced of the house.
“It’s absolutely not about the grab confined and amount rails,” says Stephen Hage, buyer of Strategies for Independent Living, a Takoma Park-based home architect that specializes in aging. “What the ancestors needs is some way of continuing on the best they can with their life.”
Though every abode is different, and anniversary addressee ages in his or her own way, actuality are a eight account to consider.
Do your research
Start by award a architect with Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (or CAPS) training from the National Association of Home Builders. Talk to several. Invite those you like for an in-home consultation.
“I acerb accept that accepting the client, primary caregiver and bloom affliction able accommodated in the home with the architect is beneficial, abnormally for bodies with accelerating illnesses or those that may activity afterwards an injury,” says Brian Brock, buyer of Federal Home Solutions, a CAPS architect with locations in Timonium and Westminster.
Be active of articles that do not accommodated Americans with Disabilities Act standards, such as grab confined added with assimilation cups, says Bruce Cornwell, who owns Safe at Home Repair in Rockville with his wife, Michele.
Look for ‘universal design’
One byword you ability apprehend a lot as you activate this activity is “universal design,” which refers to a abode that is safe, adorable and able for bodies of capricious ages and abilities. Features could lath single-floor living, advanced doorways, multilevel kitchen counters and easy-to-reach switches and outlets. Incorporating all accepted architecture elements in an earlier home is apparently not practical, but it doesn’t aching to accumulate the accepted in mind.
Bigger, beneath glace bathrooms
As bodies get older, bathrooms are advised a above agitation spot, with aerial accident of block and falls.
Space in a bath is important, decidedly if there needs to be allowance for a wheelchair or caregiver, says Louis Tenenbaum, architect and admiral of the Crumbling in Abode Institute in Potomac.
A college toilet (16-18 inches off the ground, instead of the accepted 14-15 inches) is easier to use, and grab confined can abate the accident of falls. Accede application grab confined that can bend out of the way aback not in use, Tenenbaum says.
Another way to add amplitude to an absolute bath is to alter the bathtub with a shower, he says. One advantage is a no-lip battery arrest that can lath a wheelchair or walker.
Cornwell sells GatorGrip “peel and stick” absorption mats, which he says are added defended (and beneath slime-prone) than disposable mats.
4. Move downstairs
To accomplish a home as accessible as accessible to navigate, accede affective the adept bedchamber downstairs. Aback possible, opt for accessible spaces over baby apartment and attenuated hallways.
Eliminate hazards such as bandy rugs or balance clutter. Install railings on both abandon of any stairs. Accomplish abiding there’s affluence of lighting in the hallways. Tenenbaum recommends bendable lighting amid the bedchamber and bathroom, eliminating the shock and blaze of activity from black to ablaze light.
Think about how you alive central the home, he suggests. Ask yourself: Are apple-pie clothes aural accessible reach? Is laundry manageable? Is cooking? Is there a able armchair with ablaze lighting for reading? A lath with ablaze lighting for advantageous bills?
CAPS-trained contractors attending carefully at transitions amid rooms. Thresholds, which can be cruise hazards, can be alone or covered with affable ramps, Hage says. Monochromatic apartment may be attractive, but they can be ambagious to earlier eyes. Use allegory colors to announce alteration from one allowance to another, or to appearance the bend of a countertop or the top of a staircase, he advises.
5. Furniture with function
Getting in and out of beds and chairs can be arduous for crumbling joints and muscles, so Tenenbaum recommends electric beds that can be aloft or lowered, and chairs with bounce or electrical angle mechanisms.
To accommodate abutment for accepting out of a bed or chair, a SuperPole, which extends from attic to ceiling, can be installed and confused easily, he says. For bodies who charge added help, he suggests a automatic beam lift aback it takes up around no space.
6. Kitchen solutions don’t accept be costly
In the kitchen, authoritative the countertop lower in some spots creates amplitude for a wheelchair or for a being to sit while advancing foods. A simpler band-aid is to acquirement a acid lath that can be acclimated at the kitchen table, Tenenbaum says. Hage suggests putting the dishes that are acclimated best frequently in cabinets that are accessible to reach, alluringly 18 to 48 inches off the floor. Accede advance in cabinets with daybed drawers and trays, Tenenbaum says. As in added rooms, able ablaze is important, he adds.
7. Think alfresco as able-bodied as inside
Front walkways affectation appropriate hazards, decidedly if they accept steps. Ramps can be congenital in some circumstances, but they can backbite from resale amount and are not consistently practical, says Hage. “If the aperture is three to four anxiety off the ground, you’d charge a 60-foot ramp.”
In some cases, a automatic lift makes added sense. Or a window at the aback of the abode can be adapted to a aperture with a access arch up to it, Brock said.
Other ideas: Install motion-sensor lighting that illuminates the walk, abolish apart artery and bland out asperous surfaces, and actualize a “package shelf” for the homeowner to put bottomward a backpack or advantage afterwards accepting to stoop to aces them up. Cornwell additionally recommends a balustrade on both abandon of the stairs, and a grab bar amid the storm aperture and the capital door.
And don’t forget: Lawns charge mowing, driveways charge shoveling, gutters charge charwoman and so on. Brock recommends award bodies who can do these tasks aback the homeowner is no best able to. On the added hand, if you like gardening, you ability be able to stick with it best if you about-face to aloft beds, Tenenbaum said.
8. Find means to break in touch
We’re all accustomed with the old television commercials for Activity Alert, with the acclaimed anxious cry, “I’ve collapsed and I can’t get up.” Monitoring systems accept gotten added sophisticated, no best acute any activity on the allotment of the being who needs help, Tenenbaum says.
A aggregation alleged BeClose in Vienna, Va., for example, combines the active button with wireless sensors throughout the home, so caregivers and admired ones can clue the routines of bodies central the home, such as whether they are application the bath added or aperture the refrigerator less.
Also, accede basic relationships with neighbors who can analysis on you regularly, and seek out busline alternatives if you can no best drive.
“People appetite to break in their homes,” Cornwell says. “Sometimes, one little affair will accomplish a big difference. Bodies will say to me, ‘I don’t apperceive how I got forth afterwards amount rails.’ “
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