Written by: Tanya Yaacoub
From pancake breakfasts to movie nights, our homes are filled with memories that we may not wish to part with simply because of physical limitations. Whether it’s age or a medical condition that is slowing you down, there are changes that can be made to your home to ensure your family will thrive there for years to come. We sat down with one of Mosby’s Certified Aging in Place (CAPS) designers to discuss ideas for making your home more accessible.
Accessible Design: where do I start?
“The first step is to take a good look at your current conditions and assess the areas that are a challenge to navigate today, and have the foresight to predict those that will be a problem down the road.” says designer Tanya Yaacoub. “Something such as wide doorways may seem trivial, but in 15 years when mobility becomes an issue you will be glad you planned ahead.”
Make your exterior more accessible
Modifications can be made to your home’s exterior to maximize accessibility. Bright lights that illuminate walkways aid visibility when entering and exiting the home. Ramps and inclined walkways with handrails can be creatively integrated to look natural and upscale. Decks and patios can be adjusted so that you don’t need to travel up and down an excessive number of stairs. Updating exterior materials that are low maintenance is another good way to keep your home manageable. An accessible exterior remodel may include vinyl siding, composite decking and easy-to-care-for landscaping.
You don’t have to leave your two-story home
While a single-level home is ideal for accessibly-challenged individuals, having a multi-story home doesn’t necessarily mean you must move. Professionals may be able to reconfigure your space for easy mobility. Smaller projects such as installing flush thresholds between rooms will make a huge difference. Larger projects may include relocating the master suite. If your bedroom isn’t on the first floor, consider converting a rarely-used study or sitting room into a new master suite. If that’s not feasible, another option is to add an elevator to the upper floors. In these situations, enlisting help from a CAPS-certified expert is a smart way to go.
Creating an accessible bathroom
The bathroom is another area that can be unsafe if not properly outfitted. Remodeling a bathroom to include Barrier-free showers allows easy access for seniors and/or people in wheelchairs. Grab bars, slip-resistant flooring and shower seats are helpful in preventing falls. Lever handles, pedal-controlled and voice-activated faucets are also handy, as well as toilet paper holders that can be changed with one hand. Wall-hung sinks give plenty of knee space if in a wheelchair, and extra bracing in the walls support extra weight when leaned upon.
These are just a few ways to update your home so that it adapts to your changing needs. Yaacoub reminds everyone that not all thriving in place adjustments have to look institutional and out of place. “Now there are so many more choices when it comes to accessible design products. You don’t have to sacrifice style and beauty when designing a home that works well for you. With Mosby’s help, you can have both!”