What if all homes could be suitable for anyone, regardless of a person’s age or physical ability? What if a person who wants to live independently, regardless of his or her age or physical ability, could do just that? On February 27, 2019, Jane King a veteran speaker for AARP conducted a Home Fit Workshop for Inova Mount Vernon Hospital. The Home Fit Workshop provided information to participants on how to decide what type of home modifications are needed to stay in their home as they age. It also provided ideas and inspiration for making those modifications. Jane educated participants on home updates that can make it easier for them to go about their daily activities while staying comfortable, independent, and injury-free in their home.
The 21 attendees received resources to make their home more livable and incorporate design principles and products that are adaptable, safe and easy to use. Such smartly designed features are attractive, stylish and come at all price points. Jane took the attendees on a room by room Home Fit Tour.
Entrances and Exits
- Entrances (inside and out) are free of clutter
- There is a no-trip doorway threshold
- Address number should be visible from the street so emergency responders can locate the home
- Doorways are at least 36” wide or made that wide by installing swing-away or swing-clear hinges
- There is exterior lighting at all entrances
- Cabinets and drawers have easy to grasp D-shaped pulls and handles rather than knobs
- Has a lever-, touch- or sensor-style faucet rather than one with turn-style knobs or handle
- Faucets are pressure-balanced, temperature-regulated and kept at or below 120*F
- Stove or Cooktop controls are near the front of the device, so the cook doesn’t need to reach over the flame or hot pots
Steps and Stairways
- Safe and secure handrails are on both sides of stairs and are placed at a user-appropriate height and properly secured to the walls
- Uncarpeted steps feature a non-slip surface such as adhesive strips
- Stairway lights can be turned on and off at both the top and the bottom of the stairs
- All stairs are clear of clutter
Living Room and Bedroom
- Furniture is arranged to allow clear, wide passageways
- Light switches are rocker-style and installed between 36” and 44” from the floor, electrical outlets are placed 18” to 24” from the floor.
- Place the bed in a way that allows easy access to the bathroom
- Natural light is used to the fullest by opening curtains, blinds, and shades during daylight hours
- The toilet is a higher, comfort-height model. (Or maybe there’s a toilet seat riser.)
- Bathtub and/or shower floor has a nonskid mat or non-slip strips
- The shower features a hand-held or adjustable showerhead
- Sink, bathtub and shower faucets feature easy to use lever handles rather than knobs or turn handles
A simple home modification can make a home more user-friendly and livable for everyone. Attendees noted that many of the Home Fit suggestions are doable even if you don’t own the house or apartment. For changes that will require some remodeling or installation work, you may need to seek permission from the property owner. Help is available, an occupational therapist (OT) or Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) can visit your home, assess your needs and recommend helpful home modifications.
To find a Certified Aging in Place Specialist in your area call the NAHB at 800-368-5242 or visit its directory page “Find a Certified Aging in Place Specialist” at nahb.org.