Aging in place is all about living independently for as long as possible within your existing home. It is also about being safe and healthy within your home which has had architectural barriers or dangerous areas removed using proven practical home modifications. Trained and certified CAPS professionals are working throughout the residential remodeling industry demonstrating how you can age in place with the greatest freedom of movement and maneuverability. Aging in place home design is a concept promoting independence and livability for all types of living environments no matter the age or level of abilities of the occupants. The principle is not entirely age related as recuperation periods from injuries or the progression of debilitating diseases like MS can happen to anyone at any age.
Imagine being an active 60-70 year old adult who is able to participate in a full array of activities. This person may continue to work well beyond retirement age, enjoy sports, and travel wherever he or she desires. Then imagine how this same person might react to recovering over a six to eight week period while recuperating from a hip or knee replacement. The inability to move from the bedroom to the bathroom or kitchen without the use of a cane, walker, or wheelchair can be psychologically devastating. The homeowner has become a prisoner within their own realized inaccessible home.
The physical challenges brought about by narrow hallways and doorways or high thresholds at the home's main entrance or shower area can create an impasse as they now have become physical barriers within the home. Not only has the ability to step over these barriers diminished but standing up from being seated on a low toilet seat has become almost impossible. Imagine the psychological impact of this limited environment on an individual who previously was accustomed to being fit, useful, and independent. Or imagine a person whose hands are now disfigured from the crippling effects of arthritis and they have lost the ability to grasp objects. Just turning on a sink faucet or opening drawers can seem insurmountable to a person with such disabilities.
To accommodate the prospect of such physical challenges, dramatic changes to one's home may be necessary. Effective home adaptations and modifications can make any home safer and more manageable. Making important design decisions early in our lives can minimize the physical barriers and restrictions in one's home and secure access to the most essential areas like the kitchen and bathroom. This forethought will insure the dignity and independence for the homeowner in the event their mobility becomes restricted.
The new evolving concept known as Universal Design and specialized handicap remodeling contractors for home remodeling is catching on nation wide and has been for several years as a sign of the times. By 2019, all the 76 million baby boomers will be age 55 or older at a time when many people are planning for retirement. Universal design techniques used in building makes a home more accessible to all regardless of their mobility or adaptive abilities. An evolution of new products used for disability home modifications is making those homes more accessible and has finally come about in the remodeling industry. These new advances in accessible home remodeling in Austin not only keep the living environments safer but will not compromise the home's aesthetics. Bathrooms can be both functional and attractive when planned with elements like cabinetry that allow someone to sit at a sink. In fact, there are many benefits to using universal design techniques, including potential use by aging family members, added resale value appealing to multiple generations, and the fact that you'll be creating a space that can be used by anyone who visits your home, regardless of their range of abilities. Simple universal design updates for aging in place home modifications and handicap bathroom accessibility can include adding grab bars or handrails throughout the home, custom tub to shower conversions, adding a seat within the roll in shower, lowering upper cabinets and counter tops, adding non-slip flooring, widening hallways or installing stair lifts, and widening doors. You might also consider lowering light switches and thermostats and installing easier to use door knobs. Many considerations should be taken into account to provide safety and independence. You should try to provide a clear barrier free path or accessible route to the most visited areas of your home as recommended by the ADA. The three areas needing improvement for a person wanting to age in place is the bathroom, the kitchen, and the family area.
Accessible homes look much like other homes but they still help with handicap accessibility. These homes often have a sunny open feeling since there are fewer walls between common areas. Level slip resistant floors prevent falls and create a comfortable flow between all living areas. The kitchen is more efficient having fewer doors, compact storage, graspable hardware, and lowered cabinet tops. The bathrooms are a little more spacious than in a traditional home with a five foot turning radius observed. The house is safer and designed to reduce the potential for falls. Lever knobs at every door and either wrist handles or levers control the sink faucets throughout the house. Raised toilet seats with accompanying grab bars enable standing up after being seated more maneuverable. Adequate glare-free lighting is well positioned to prevent dark spots. The accessible home is the home of the future representing the way we want to live right now. Well planned accessible homes lift the spirits and enhance dignity. They have the ability to transform our relationships with our bodies and our homes.
The National Association of Home Builders, in partnership with the AARP and Home Innovation Research Labs, created the CAPS program, which includes training and education on the technical, business management and customer service skills essential to compete in the fastest growing segment of the residential remodeling industry--home modifications for aging in place. David L. Traut, CAPS owner of T-Square Company in Austin, Texas as a handicap remodeling contractor is one of the select group of professionals nationwide to earn the Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (CAPS) designation, identifying him as a home remodeler and builder with the skills, training, and knowledge necessary to design and remodel or modify a home to meet the unique needs of the older population, disabled owners, or their visitors.
For additional information about the CAPS program, visit nahb.org/CAPS. For more information about T-Square Company, visit www.tsquareco.com or call 512-444-0097.