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Aging in Place

Things I Learned While Building My Addition

I decided to build a first floor addition to my home so I would no longer have to go up and down stairs everyday. I had watched my parents live out their last days in a nursing home and I have no desire to do that.  My plan is that when I get to the point when I need help with day to day life, I will hire a care giver who can live upstairs.  In the process of planning my addition I heard a new expression: aging in place.  I first heard it from my college roommate who had moved to her “old lady home” several years earlier.  I remember that she had her home built from the ground up with aging in place in mind.  So I called her to get some tips.

I had in mind several features I wanted in the addition.  A “comfort height” toilet topped the list. This means the height is 17″ to 19″ rather than the 12″ to 14″ of a normal toilet.  Then I learned that the doors should have handles rather than knobs since handles are easier to manipulate.  Who knew?  Doorways ought to be at least 36 inches wide to accommodate a wheelchair or walker, if that ever becomes necessary.  My friend suggested hardwood floors which are easier for both walkers and wheelchairs.

Bathrooms for Aging Residents

In my new bathroom I knew I wanted a grab bar installed in the shower and near the toilet.  The shower head is on a long hose so that if I need to sit while showering, it will reach.  I chose a one piece fiberglass shower enclosure with a built in seat.  For now it is a handy place to store shampoo, conditioner etc.  The builder suggested making the bathroom counters a couple of inches higher to make them more comfortable.

Consumer Reports recently did an article about aging in place and I was pleased to see I had thought of most everything they suggest.  If you need help with aging in place, there is a professional called a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS).  You can find one in your area on the website for the National Association of Homebuilders at www.nahb.org.

One more point of assistance for aging in place is to hire Custom Maid in Virginia Beach, Norfolk or Chesapeake to do your routine house cleaning for you.  Just call us at 499-8568.

I’m hoping I won’t need most of these new features for some time to come, but when I need them, I will be ready!

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