As part of my Environments and Aging class, I was asked to evaluate my current home using universal design checklists for each of several areas – kitchen, bathroom, living room, exterior, lighting and sound, etc. The lists we used as a class were compiled by Rosemary Bakker, an interior designer and gerontologist, in her book AARP Guide to Revitalizing Your Home: Beautiful Living in the Second Half of Life. Ms. Bakker has written several other books on building or retrofitting homes for lifelong use.
I was not surprised that my house failed to meet the standards suggested on the checklists, but I was a bit surprised to realize how badly it failed. I’ve lived in my 1 ½ story home for twenty years, and my spouse and I have completed many improvements, but we did so based on need for replacement of faulty features rather than based on increasing universal accessibility.
I would encourage anyone who plans on aging in their current home to evaluate that home based on Bakker’s checklist – her book is available for sale, or you may be able to find a copy of her guide in your local library. You can also find a preliminary checklist and other information about “livable homes” at http:// www.aarp.org/home-garden/livable-communities/info-07-2011/is-your-home-livable.html.
As for my home, my husband and I now must evaluate the cost of installing universal design features in our current home versus the cost of moving to a more accessible home.