You have now made a somewhat conscious decision to stay in your home, great! Now, what are you going to do to make it as comfortable and accessible (possibly handicap friendly) as you grow older into your later years?
Have you given this idea any thought or planned on any type of construction that might be needed instead of waiting until the last minute?
Don’t be a Monday morning quarterback! This is the next phase of your life and very careful strategic planning must be considered.
Have you discussed your plans with your children? Have they offered any advice? Will they be helping you with your decision to stay as long as you can on your own without being a burden on anyone; so you can live independently and free?
Will you need anyone on a daily basis or a liv- in to assist with everyday chores or will you hire apart-timee healthcare aid?
You have many decision to make, so start now and make a list of those items that you feel you must do immediately and those that you can do over time. If you are in a wheel chair or possibly maybe in the future, are your door openings at least 32 inches wide to be able to gain access?
Narrow doorways can be a real handicap for someone using a wheelchair or walker. Residential building codes, architects and home builders haven’t considered the needs of people using a wheelchair or walker.
Doors can be widened but it can be an inconvenience and costly. An alternative solution might be replacing your existing 1-1/2″ x 3-1/2″ hinges with the expandable offset door hinge.
These special hinges are designed to swing the door clear of the opening adding about 2″ additional clearance for wheelchairs and walkers.
Is there enough turning room (36” to be ADA compliant) within the bathroom area for you to move around in your wheel chair? Will you need egress in and out of your bathtub or shower?
There are those that have doors that allow wheel chair accessibility. Grab bars in your bathrooms by toilets with raised seats or in showers and tubs may also be a crucial consideration depending on your physical situations as well as stationary or folding seats in your bathtubs and/or shower stalls.
If your master bedroom is on the second floor will you need a chair lift to get there? Or can you create a bedroom on the first floor?
Will your kitchen or dining room tables accommodate a wheel chair? Are all your appliances, door handles or any other things that you would encounter on a daily basis easy to use if you were disabled or in a wheelchair?
According to the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, people with disabilities are the largest and fastest-growing minority in the U.S. They control $1 trillion in total annual income. They have friends, family members, and business colleagues who accompany them to events and outings. And they use businesses and facilities that are accessible to them.
How can businesses provide access to people with disabilities? They can begin by opening their doors, literally. Accessible doors welcome everyone – and they’re required by law.
Here are more suggestions for things you can add or be aware of if you are deciding to stay in place as you age:
1. Remove loose rugs since 87 percent of the time they are a primary cause of falls, fractures and broken bones for those over 65.
2. Add inexpensive bath mats in tubs and showers or slip resistant coatings that leave an invisible anti-slip finish.
3. Replace heavy pots, pans, vacuums and trash cans with lightweight models.
4. Replace standard faucets and door handles with Levered versions.
5. Replace standard bulbs with much brighter L.E.D. for energy and money savings.
6. Remove cords across pathways and replace with remote controls for lighting, blinds, fans.
7. Install personal response systems
Most of us would choose to live and retire in our own home rather than move to a nursing home or assisted living center. Your home can be remodeled and modified to accommodate your needs and physical capabilities and conditions.
Your house can become more accessible with a few minor home modifications. It is extremely important to know these things before the day comes when you might be forced to deal with these issues as to whether you should move or improve?
Phil Raices is the owner/broker of Turn Key Real Estate at 7 Bond St. in Great Neck (moving shortly to 3 Grace Ave suite 180). He has earned the designations as a graduate of the Realtor Institute and is a certified international property specialist. He can be reached by email:[email protected] or by cell (516) 647-4289 to answer any of your questions or article suggestions or provide you a free comparative market analysis on your property.