Check out my building blog to learn more about construction for your home or office in Austin! David L. Traut, President, CAPS Certified (512)444-0097

Home Modifications for Aging in Place/How Do I Age in Place?

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Thu, Jun 23, 2022 @ 14:06 PM

While it may not be possible for every older adult to live independently in their existing home forever, there are many modifications that can be made to the home to increase safety and make it more functional for the homeowners to remain in their own homes longer. By gradually implementing home alterations that support aging in place, today’s seniors maintain their independence, and in the long run, may save a substantial amount of money on senior living.

universal design kitchen for aging in place in Austin

More seniors are opting to age in place than ever before. This trend is driven in part by the rising costs of long-term care, coupled with the rapidly growing senior population as the Baby Boomer generation ages. This particular generation is enjoying a more active, vibrant lifestyle than all other previous generations.  Increasing technology and the wider availability of personal services, such as home meal delivery, are making it easier for seniors to remain in their own homes independently. However, aging in place is not for everyone, especially when major disabilities are involved.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

As with any successful endeavor, You must establish a reasonable plan of action to age in place. This action will involve the input of all parties associated with the homeowner(s). The participants include caregivers, occupational therapists, physical therapists, extended family members, and any other professional medical personnel. Steps taken to move in a positive direction include: 

  1. Take note of your personal abilities and any difficulties you have moving around your home within specific areas.

  2. Seek out a professional assessment of your home provided by a CAPS (Certified Aging in Place Specialist)member. This way you know that you are in good hands because sometimes the renovations required to accommodate a senior or any disabled person, regardless of age, are no easy task and instead take a lot of time, knowledge, and effort.
  3. If you live in a multi-story home, combine the main rooms for activity on the first floor. If this isn't possible, entertain the idea of installing a stair-lift, or better yet, an elevator in your home.

  4. Widen all doorways to 36-inches, and include pocket doors in certain areas to limit architectural barriers caused by swinging doors. Make sure there is at least one no-step entry into the house. Install lever-style door hardware when possible throughout the home.
     
  5. Install a slip-resistant floor throughout your home using wood flooring, cork, rubber, or porcelain tile. Be mindful of the chosen flooring's hardness in case of falls. Carpet offers too much resistance when using any mobility device causing tripping, falls, and instability. Ensure all transitions when changing floor materials are as smooth as possible and below 1/2 inches in height.

  6. Take note of any lighting issues producing dark areas in any room. Add layered lighting throughout the home to increase safety.

  7. Reduce the clutter in all rooms and provide a clear five-foot turning radius in every room.

  8. Reduce the number of doors on cabinets opting for full-extension pull-out shelves or drawers.

  9. As for the bathroom, provide a walk-in or roll-in shower with grab bars on all sides versus a garden tub. A hand-held and fixed shower head provides options for the user or caretaker. A roll under vanity is great for wheelchair use or applying makeup from a seated position. A comfort height toilet associated with grab bars reduces the discomfort of deep knee bends. 

  10. For the kitchen, make it as adaptable as possible to suit the needs of child helpers or granny in her wheelchair. Offer varying cabinet heights and work surfaces. Plan for the shortest work triangle formed by your main sink, refrigerator, and stove locations. Raise your dishwasher 9-12 inches above the floor making it easier to load and unload for everyone.

  11.  Last, but not least, comes the laundry. Install side-swinging doors of opposite swings for the washer and dryer enabling you to simultaneously access both machines from the middle. Don't forget to set the machines on a pedestal to raise them above the floor, in case you ever find yourself using a wheelchair.

Get Educated 

 

T-Square Company, located in Austin, Texas offers complete design/build Aging in Place Services to its clientele. David L Traut, the President, and owner of T-Square Company is national CAPS certified and has been doing successful accessibility remodels, additions, and construction for over 30 years. Some of our clients include HUD, the VA, and many private homeowners. Contact us today to see how T-Square Company can help you solve issues to streamline your home accessibility to Safely and Comfortably Age in Place in your existing home. 

 

 

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CAPS Services In Austin, Texas

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Thu, Dec 16, 2021 @ 15:12 PM

What are CAPS services and what does CAPS stand for? First of all, CAPS stands for Certified Aging in Place Specialist. The aging societal changes and inventory of inaccessible existing houses created the need for a CAPS certification program. This designation program, offered through the National Association of Home Builders, NAHB, in collaboration with The American Association of Retired Persons or AARP, incorporates components of assessment, technical knowledge, and management skills related to home modifications used to help people stay at home safely and independently for a longer period of time. The program was developed in 2001.

Accessible Shower in Austin

The services offered by a CAPS professional varies from a complete accessible remodel to improving certain areas in the home like bathrooms or kitchens. The precise modifications increase usability according to personal needs of the homeowner and family. The CAPS program connects responsible professionals with homeowners needing specialized accessibility services on an ever-increasing basis. Ordinary homeowners with extraordinary challenges partner up with experienced CAPS professionals and their own families. Working as a team, the trained CAPS specialist along with any family caretakers or therapists is able to identify the day-to-day problems weighing on those with health limitations. Aging in Place services provided by a specialized remodeling contractor ensures all accessibility issues of the home are accomplished correctly. T-Square Company located in Austin, Texas is one of the specialized CAPS certified contractors.

The CAPS credential is a nationwide initiative and many construction and design professionals are taking advantage of the helpful training across the nation. David L. Traut, president, and owner of T-Square Company is an active CAPS member (#1636580) and has participated in the program for over a decade. Furthermore, he has actively completed accessibility design/build remodels for over 25 years for the private sector, HUD, and the VA.  Always check a person's credentials to verify the remodeler holds an active CAPS certification and is familiar with Universal Design. All registered CAPS program graduates and remodeling companies are listed in a national registry in Washington DC. The information is found by calling 1-800-368-5242 or by simply visiting their website at: http:www.nahb.org/en/learn/designations/certified-aging-in-place-specialist.aspx.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

If the current pandemic taught us anything concerning safety and institutional living situations, we now know it is much safer to remain in your home surrounded by familiar surroundings and friends. During the stay-at-home mandates, everyone was aware of what Aging in Place meant. We all became better acquainted with our homes and family members. The best way to approach a desire to Age in Place is by being proactive before an illness takes control of your life. At that point, you must deal with it in a reactive manner. There are many differences between home modifications and a home remodel. The main difference is home modifications involve investing in your familiar home versus spending during remodeling. Home modifications are used to enhance your ADL (Activities of Daily Living) whereas remodeling deals more with aesthetics. Investing in your home will benefit your future retirement years by making your home conform to your needs.  

T-Square Company in Austin, Texas is a CAPS certified remodeler and offers design/build Aging in Place projects using principles of Universal Design. Call 512-444-0097 to discuss your project today and learn how you can achieve better accessibility within your existing home. Our knowledge and experience can help solve your personal needs within your existing home. Whether you need a safer shower, wider doorways, a zero-step entrance, or a more accessible kitchen to entertain your family and friends, T-Square Company is here to help.

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Remodel Your Bathroom Wisely For Future Needs/Accessible Bathrooms

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Fri, Nov 12, 2021 @ 15:11 PM

As a universal design/build construction company located in Austin, Texas, T-Square Company realizes that building for your future changing needs is a very valuable consideration concerning all your periodic remodeling projects. We always design for the future for our clients, regardless of their age or abilities. This thought process is especially true when designing a bathroom upgrade. Being a nationally CAPS certified remodeler, we are very aware your personal needs can change in the blink of an eye. The daily tasks of getting into the bathroom, bathing, showering, using the toilet, or brushing your teeth can become almost impossible without assistance if you don't address your bathroom's inaccessibility in a proactive manner. Any revisions must be completed before you absolutely need the help. Design shortcomings become ever so noticeable if you have an accident and are recovering at home or a debilitating disease sets in. Most all problems caused by architectural barriers will be eliminated with a handicap accessible bathroom remodel.

We are certain that avoiding emergency remodeling while incorporating Universal Design techniques into your home whenever possible is a great way of enhancing your health, independence, and safety. This practice also provides a better overall quality of life. The sooner the main inaccessible areas in your home are addressed, the longer you and your family have to enjoy them. For those desiring to Age in Place, as in safely living in your own home for as long as possible, gradually incorporating the principles of Universal Design into all remodeling projects provides a seamless gateway for successful aging. So, what are the main concerns when designing a bathroom for the future?

 

Getting Into The Bathroom

Accessible bathroom in Austin

When possible, you should always install a 36-inch wide door into your bathroom allowing all mobility devices to enter without obstruction. Sometimes it's easier when walls cannot be altered or removed to make a large double door entry into the bathroom. Replacing the original twenty-four to twenty-eight-inch wide door offers maximum accessibility for anyone. This universal design element provides clear approaches toward all bathroom fixtures from an adjoining room.  Additionally, an unobstructed 60-inch wheelchair turning radius is shared by the bathroom and adjacent room.

 

An Accessible Shower

ADA shower in Austin, Texas

A safe, low-profile (1 1/2" tall) accessible shower with roll-in capability from an add-on ramp suits the needs of most diverse homeowners. Even if you don't require the grab bars during a particular phase of your life, installing adequate blocking before the tile is installed provides a universal path for your future needs once the bars are required. Take note, the grab bars must be able to withstand a shear force of 300 pounds. Their purpose is to provide support and stability when you need it most. Clutter within the shower and especially on the shower floor is a safety hazard. Recessed shampoo niches keep shampoo bottles and other items off the floor. Additionally, folding shower seats are far safer than free-standing models that are rarely ever in the right place. They save space when folded while not in use and never interrupt the use of a shower chair. It is a common misconception that shower controls must be mounted on one wall underneath the fixed shower head. Shower valves can be installed anywhere they are most convenient for the user, especially if a caretaker is involved. A recessed shower can light above the shower decreases shadows and further increases safety.

 

Using The Toilet

ADA accessible toilet in Austin

When a toilet exists in a confining room or space, there is no easy way of approaching it if you have mobility problems and especially if you are using any kind of mobility device. After all, safety is the predominant concern when using the toilet. Remove all restricting walls and narrow doors so everyone can freely approach and use the toilet. Once again, grab bars increase safety when they are required and must be adequately prepared for installation. Another problem with toilets involves those that are too short requiring deep knee bends for using them. A higher comfort height toilet offers significant help with this problem. Be sure the flush handle is toward the open side of the bathroom.

 

Brushing Your Teeth

IMG_0068-1

Offering adaptability in a vanity is a universal design aspect. Everyone has equal access while standing or using a wheelchair--if only for a short time during recoveries. More adaptability is offered using multiple height countertops. Lever faucets are easier for everyone to operate, even for those users with arthritis. Motion-sensor faucets create washing areas that are completely hand-free.

 

When you are ready to take the next steps toward your accessible future, contact T-Square Company in Austin, Texas. We can show you how to address your personal needs using our more than thirty years of knowledge and design/build accessibility experience. We guarantee to keep you safer in your existing home longer and out of dangerous and uncaring institutions using our proven design methods. We offer all handicap accessible home renovations or additions--especially accessible bathrooms.

David L. Traut, CAPS #1636580

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Future Home Building Using Universal Design

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Dec 30, 2020 @ 15:12 PM

The present out of control housing market situation prompted a search for answers solving the question of how to create houses capable of meeting the needs of tomorrow while accommodating future life changes. There is no one size fits all home design because everyone’s life experience is unique to them creating a diverse society with diverse physical needs. Using Universal Design, the wide ranging abilities of the homeowner is a major consideration for all successful inclusive and adaptable designs in homes. The absence of the Universal Design principles entering into all existing home architectural endeavors is perpetuating the lack of accessible housing urgently needed for the lifespan of every homeowner. To increase the acceptance of this design concept by everyone, especially the consumer, Universal Design must become a topic of conversation through knowledge and basic understanding. This depends on the members of the broadest populations’ acknowledgement of the need for the use of this practical idea.

Universal Design Kitchen in Austin

Universal Design plays a significant role in the future accessibility of all home designs. Homeowners must base design decisions on the seven (or eight) principles of Universal Design. Deciding which universal features to include in future forever homes is the most alluring question. Each principle is very useful in itself. The more principles involved in the design process, the greater the adaptable outcome of the home. After all, the smart forward thinking homes of the future depict long term sustainable assets for life allowing Aging in Place to seamlessly follow as people age and evolve. It is true Universal Design emerged out of the accessible and adaptive architectural movement; however, it constantly attempts to combine aesthetics with basic core values for every user. While moving us toward an accessible future, appearing invisible, Universal Design recognizes peoples’ bodies, needs, and lifestyles constantly change along a continuum due to the aging process. Universal Design acknowledges too that everyone ages differently as individuals. One person’s disability type is not experienced like another’s. It is better to live in a more open and comfortable Universal Design home with the flexibility of evolving with the homeowner rather than one which at some uncertain time becomes an impasse during the homeowner’s lifetime.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

Embracing Universal Design with its many values and advantages for all people during timely remodeling projects or while building a new home is needed if society is ever going to escape the inaccessible cookie cutter homes of today. Additionally, this design technique offers a win-win solution helping solve problems encountered by multi-generational households. The multi-generational homes of today create the greatest personal accessibility challenges for all the generations involved. The application of Universal Design principles is desperately needed to sustain the choice of living environments for these diversified families. Universal Design homes have the unique ability of simultaneously accommodating strollers, walkers, or wheelchairs within the home without regard to a person’s size, age, or abilities. Furthermore, these homes contain lasting value if the owner ever decides to sell appealing to all society groups. To the uninformed, the folklore associated with Universal Design has stigmatized the process in home building today. This has much to do with why such a unique building concept is not greeted with open arms by the consumer. Beliefs like, it costs more, it takes up too much space, it will make my home have less resale value, it will look institutional, or only a few people could benefit from it represent a select few.

While Universal Design sounds appealing in conversations, it is rare to actually witness it in the built environment. The Universal Design movement recognizes its slow acceptance hinges on historic ties related to being a disability solution. This way of thinking causes implications for consumers and the world of home design presenting a huge misconception. Universal Design never distanced itself from the need for increased accessibility during the disability movement of the 80’s and therefore is mired in ADA jargon producing an indelible unfocused brand. As an inclusive design, Universal Design pertains to overcoming the barriers and stereotypes associated with its terminology in order to stand out as the next and final trend in future housing. Universal Design has no limits for the varying groups of people it helps. Every family member is included when using this design methodology whether they are abled or disabled, short or tall, young or old. With education, people understand Universal Design is the most revolutionary element in housing design today. Once realized how the principles of Universal Design affect everyone in the quest for maximum inclusion, consumers might start paying better attention to this logical building concept. Future home dwellers are fortunate in having this transitional and adaptable design concept in their vocabulary. Possibly they distinguish the designs flexibility as the gateway for tomorrow homes built and designed for everyone at every age. Only then, when people grasp the importance of Universal Design, does it become an everyday building term and a much needed household solution. No longer are personal desires for Aging in Place creating total disruption during life’s waning years. It is successfully accomplished seamlessly following the accessibility offered by Universal Design.

Discover the Principles Of Universal Design

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