We’ve written often about Universal Design principals when remodeling for home healthcare, but here are some thoughts about design elements to avoid. Although the design found in a home is a matter of personal taste, there are a some design elements that professionals think are overused in our homes. eLocal.com polled its panel of experts to find out what elements in home improvement need to be put to rest. Their responses and the reasons for them might not be what you expected. Curious to see what they thought? We present the top 5 design mistakes homeowners make…
How is Technology Affecting the Way we Live at Home?
This question from eLocal.com was asked of several expert home remodelers, and I found the responses insightful and thought provoking. Here are some of the comments that caught my attention [edited]. Pay particular attention to the last comment.
Home technology is becoming much more cost-effective for middle class households. Years ago, systems like home automation were reserved for high-end renovations and home construction. With recent innovations such as smart phones and the iPad, wireless devices can be tied into lower cost automation systems for a similar level of control. In the past few years as energy prices have risen, we have seen many homeowners wanting to regulate their lighting and HVAC with automation, cutting their emissions and monthly bill.
Moving into the future, I expect technology to continue becoming more accessible to “everyday people.” Also, I expect to see growth in the systems used to monitor energy usage, as well as systems used to monitor older adults aging in place, especially as baby boomers retire.
I found a book on home remodeling that may help you or your aging parents. It reminded me of mom’s story and the fact that housing needs change as we move through life stages.
Mom & Dad were both chain smokers, but thankfully I never started. After dad died, mom sold their home in McLean and bought a nice little condo in Fairfax. She even replaced the large-scale furniture with units that better fit the smaller space. ‘Good move. That worked fine for a few years, but without dad she grew more lonely and needed more care. Her emphysema progressed to the point that she was put on oxygen and forced to quit smoking, and she could no longer drive.
As her health deteriorated, one of the best things mom did was to sell the condo and use the money to build an apartment onto my brother’s home. Perry had enough land to expand on, and it gave mom autonomy and a sense of security with family so close by. She still missed dad but was relatively happy there – as happy as she could be given her health problems – until she too finally passed away years later.
I invite you to share your own story as a reply below.
To unlock the door of my wife’s 9-year-old Lexus, I can insert and turn the key OR just press a button on the wireless key fob, but I still need to get the key out of my pocket. I don’t even need to take the key out to unlock or start my newer Infinity because it uses near field communication. I just push a button on the door to get in and turn the ignition to start.
Wouldn’t it be nice to enter the home the same way? As shown in the photo, I still use a key, but many keyless door locks are available. Each has advantages for certain situations, so which option would you prefer? Here are some ideas, but we’d like to hear from you, so leave a reply below.
Managing Stairs: The Stair Lift
By Susan Luxenberg, President, HomeSmart LLC
There are many different types of stair lifts: straight rail stair lifts, curved rail stair lifts, indoor as well as outdoor stair lifts. They can be purchased new or used. [If you have experience with a lift, please tell us about it in our comments section below.]
You do not need to have aging infirmities or be a wheelchair user to be faced with a challenge when negotiating stairs. Leg or back injuries can also make stair climbing painful if not impossible. One of the best options for handling the stairways found both inside your home and out is a stair lift.
Your kids have grown, and they left you empty nested. You no longer need that big house and may have already considered downsizing. 77% of boomers have, considered it at least. But have you done anything about it? Less than 29% have a strategy for downsizing or modifying their home for aging in place.
Face it; you too are getting older, one day or one year at a time. You need to start planning for retirement, sometime. But like many boomers, you hate planning. Maybe it’s because you still feel young. Is that why you still don’t have a will or don’t manage your investments actively? Are you one of those people who don’t even open their 401k statements?
Before remodeling, check out AARP’s free webinar, “Transform Your Bathroom Through Good Design and Innovative Products,” and their paperback book, “Guide to Revitalizing Your Home: Beautiful Living for the Second Half of Life.”
The webinar featured dozens of photos showing innovative ideas, many using universal design concepts. I selected a 21 sample photos to include in this article but encourage you to watch the webinar to see them all and hear the commentary.
Remodeling for accessibility can be quite attractive and increase a home’s value. Click on each image below to see the high-res version, and notice the design features, such as wheelchair accessible showers, folding shower seats and handheld shower heads, designer grab bars and mirrors, cabinets with knee space and storage, and smart toilets.
Home health care can avoid higher costs of institutional care in a nursing home or assisted living facility, but making space may be an issue. Fortunately, there are many options. You can give grandma the spare bedroom, convert a garage into living space, remodel the home, or add a small cottage on your property.
That last option is the idea behind MEDCottage, a charming modular home that serves as a “mini-medical facility.” It’s designed like a deluxe trailer for the elderly, but it doesn’t look like a trailer. I like the idea of relying on experts to integrate various systems, where the combined value is greater than the sum benefits of each part.
According to reporter Eryn Brown of the LA Times, the electronic hands-free faucets save water but can spread germs. So how’s that?
I don’t know, but apparently folks at Johns Hopkins Hospitals in Baltimore discovered that their new faucets were so much more contaminated with bacteria that they ripped them out and went back to the conventional lever-handle type.
Read whole story here.
AARP says the vast majority of Americans over age 50 want to stay in their homes as they age. We’d rather stay in familiar surroundings with treasured memories and nearby friends and neighbors than seek assisted living and other options. Most homes, however, weren’t designed with that objective in mind. Often built by and for younger generations, they can pose hazards to someone with impaired mobility, balance or vision. Fortunately, some relatively inexpensive adaptations can accommodate life changes as we age. This article addresses the simplest of them.
Safety & Mobility
As we get older, or suffer an injury or other disability, our sore joints, weakened muscles, and a lack of balance, dexterity and vision make simple tasks difficult, including reaching, bending, lifting, and moving about more. This can contribute to accidents and affect our personal hygiene, nutrition, and well-being.
So remember what Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” With planning and preparation, you can help prevent falls and injuries rather than react to them.
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By Linda Stern, Reuters, 3/11/2011
Most boomers say they don’t want to retire and move to Florida or Arizona or even Belize. They want to stay where they are, near family and friends and in the home that they already know and love.
That may not work out for the whole generation: Their kids might move away, or the expensive suburban neighborhoods that served them well when they were working might prove too taxing once they start cashing in their 401(k) accounts. Some may change their plans. But anyone giving serious thought to retiring – and ultimately aging – in place, can make that outcome more likely if they start planning in advance.
“Don’t just leave it to chance,” says Peter Bell, a reverse mortgage advocate and also head of the National Aging In Place Council, a coalition of businesses that sell to seniors. “Waiting until you’re in your 80s is a mistake.”
So lay that groundwork now. You could always move later. Here are some pointers.
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