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  • Writer's pictureJoani Stewart

Aging in Place

You found the perfect home for you. You have memories there. Your friends live close by. You raised your kids there. You know and love your neighborhood. Understandably, you never want to move.

You want peace of mind as you age: It’s a good idea to consider preparing your home for older age. Mobility concerns like instability while walking and falls are common as we age. You can also sustain unintentional injuries like bone fractures from falls. Fortunately, you can prevent falls and injuries by making your home more accessible.

Many people as they age have trouble making it up their stairs, they think if they hold onto the handrail, they will be safe from falling. One slip, one misstep, and your whole life can change in an instant. Why take the chance? Residential elevators can be a perfect solution if accessibility and mobility in your home is a challenge. The footprint of a residential elevator has decreased over the years, and more seniors who are handicapped are considering adding a home elevator as a viable option to make moving between levels in your home easier and safer. Consider installing an elevator before the need arises. It is important to look ahead so that when that time arrives, you are prepared.

Installing an elevator is not only an expense but more importantly, it is a long-term construction project. You might have to move from your home during the upheaval and better to do that while you are still healthy and mobile. Once you have become disabled, it is more difficult to move to a temporary lodging.

Elevators have become less expensive these days and more attractive. There are many styles to choose from, so take your time and do your research.

Rethink the Bathroom

A standard wheelchair is 24”-27” wide. To accommodate a wheelchair, the bathroom door should be at least 36” wide. The extra space allows for easy access for a wheelchair, especially if you have to turn the wheelchair to enter.

Important Room Dimensions: The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), suggests turning spaces be 60” in diameter.

Extra Space Around the Toilet:

It is recommended to leave a space on one side of the toilet to be able to move the wheelchair close and for those requiring transfer assistance. Grab bars near the toilet can also be helpful.

Showers should be curbless to accommodate a wheelchair and alleviate a handicapped person having to step over a treacherous obstacle. The shower space should be generously sized. The recommendation is generally 32” – 36” wide and 60” deep so that you can maneuver a wheelchair as well as an extra person. A seat in the shower is very helpful, especially if it is not wheelchair accessible. Grab bars are a must. They can be purchased today at CVS, Walmart, or Rite Aid stores. Today grab bars can be adhered to the tile walls or glass shower doors by a suction.

Accessible Sink Area:

To allow a wheelchair user to roll directly up to the sink, choose a design that does not impede the wheelchair. It is best to have minimal drawer space directly underneath the sink. A pedestal sink is another good choice. To make it easier to turn on the water, consider a long, single handle on the sink faucet.

Be safe. Watch your step. Be careful with area rugs, dogs in the way, toys on the floor, loose cables and cords. Hold hands, take your time and live a long, healthy life. Be grateful and happy.

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