The CAPS program (Certified Aging In-Place Specialist) is a collaboration between the National Association of Home Builders’ NAHB Re-modelers, AARP, the NAHB Research Center, and the 50+ Housing Council.
When considering a remodel, think Universal Design! This is a way of creating a more open, accessible and “visitable” space for the homeowner as well as for friends and family.
There are five major causes for slip-and-fall accidents:
1. Lack of slip resistance on walking surfaces
2. Poor walking surface conditions
3. Poor visibility
4. Lack or poor condition of handrails and guardrails
5. Poor accessibility
Universal Design is meant to make a space more accessible for everyone, but that does not mean that it has to appear institutional or hospital-like. The goal is to achieve better safety and for no one to really notice because the space is so aesthetically pleasing.
Our specialty is coming up with multiple solutions for a challenging space. Often times, a homeowner is unable to see a room’s potential because the space is so familiar as it has always been. By bringing in a “new set of eyes”, we can often give ideas that the homeowner may have never considered.
The bathroom is notoriously dangerous. Slips and falls are one of the leading causes of accidental deaths in the United States, and bathrooms are enemy No. 1 due to the water involved in bathing and sink use.
Yes! Homes that are tastefully and professionally updated, especially in the kitchens and bathrooms, have a higher resale value than those that are not updated. Also, by improving the flow and functionality of your bathroom with a beautiful design & with safety in mind, it increases the likely-hood that you, as a homeowner, could stay in your home long-term and it would improve the sale-ability of your home for future homeowners.
Thinking ahead is the key. You’ll need at least one zero clearance (no step) point of entry, a main floor bedroom and full bathroom, and main floor laundry. Wider doorways, low-pile carpet or smooth floor surfaces and an open floor plan help for possible walker or wheelchair access throughout the home. Have a plan that will be helpful to all ages and more accommodating to those who may want to stay in the home when they’re older. For instance, think about a master bedroom on the first floor. It can be a den or guest room now, but later it can switch to an accessible bedroom.
A level floor. Make the transitions from outside to inside and from room to room as smooth as possible. For example, eliminating threshold humps makes navigation easier whether you’re pushing a stroller, carrying groceries or using a wheelchair. And consider widening your doorways. That’s good for entertaining, for bringing in those big TVs and refrigerators we like today, as well as for the possibility that someone will use a wheelchair later on.
If you have multiple floors, a stair-lift makes transitioning between floors effortless and safe. For access to a level 3-4 feet in rise, for example from a porch, a vertical platform lift makes more sense and can eliminate fears of falling or having to rely on others to assist an individual utilizing a wheelchair.
Wherever you have more than two steps, you should have banisters on both sides. That’s critical when we don’t have our best balance, and it helps children, too. My friend’s house—a beautiful Dutch Colonial—has three steps leading up to the front entrance, and the banister only goes up one side. For family holidays she makes sure not to put decorations on that side so they don’t interfere with her grandpa—or her little niece—going up the steps.
If strength or just an inability to ambulate up the steps is the problem, the solution is to get a stair-lift to assist you up the steps with ease and peace of mind.
We need three times more light at the age of 60 as we did at the age of 20 to see adequately. More natural light from windows and glass doors helps keep electrical costs down, but allows good visibility. Plenty of accent, ambient and task lighting makes a huge difference in a home so that it can be used as needed. Ample lighting not only makes it safer to move about indoors, but it’s important outside, too: Well-lit pathways are safer and attractive, and they act as a crime deterrent.
At least one bathroom should have an open-plan shower with a small curb or no curb (“curb-less”, “barrier-free” or “roll-in”), so people can easily step into the shower. The shower should have tile with a high anti-slip rating, grab bars for stability, a hand held shower and a bench to rest. Again, these changes can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
The “Silver Tsunami” is here! On average, 10,000 per day are turning 65! As the largest segment of the population ages, more and more people will start to consider their living arrangements. A recent AARP study established that 89 percent of 50-plus Americans intend to remain in their own homes as long as they possibly can, a phenomenon called “Aging In Place”. The most frequent decisions that a person 50 and older has to make is about their health and living situation.
Universal Design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. In other words, no special changes would have to be made to create an environment that would be accessible for people of all ages and abilities.
To find out, imagine that a person in a wheelchair has just arrived to your home as a guest. How will he or she get from the car to your door? Can that person safely enter your home? There needs to be at least one entry point that is zero-clearance. Could they safely use the restroom while visiting? A manual wheelchair needs at least a 5’x5’ area to safely turn around. Would you be able to give them a tour of your home, at least on the main floor? Your main floor would need to be level with at least 32” entrances and pathways of 36” for maneuverability. Could they help you in the kitchen if you were cooking a meal for entertaining?
•Remove any clutter or objects on the floor.
• Move furniture out of the way. Create a path so you can move easily between and through rooms.
• Get rid of area rugs. If you can’ t do that, secure them to the floor with non-skid tape.
• Make sure your flooring is smooth and slip-resistant. If you have a carpet, choose a low pile and a firm pad. The pile should be less than half an inch. Anything higher will stop wheelchairs in their tracks. It could also cause you to trip.
• Keep electric cords out of your path. They present a tripping hazard too.