They often never consider what might occur should they have a health issue or an accident that makes being in their home at the least "inconvenient."
Recently we had a conversation with a family, one whose elder mother needed a walker for much of her last years. They made changes to the house so "Grandmamie" could live independently ...with wider doors, no step entry and a great looking ramp that went from the driveway to the front door. The bathroom was remodeled so she could pretty much take care of herself, from simple tasks like washing her face in a seated position to showering in a beautiful space complete with a balance bar and curbless entry.
But none of the family every considered that one of them would benefit from some of the same design features. . . that is until one day just a couple of weeks ago. Ricky, the middle son was injured playing high school football. A totally unexpected tackle during practice and their young man was down and out with an injury to the lower spine. While the future looks good, there will be weeks, perhaps months when Ricky will need to use a wheelchair then a walker.
The trouble began when Ricky got to return home from the hospital but not to his second floor bedroom and tiny adjoining bath. Only then did they realize that had they made plans for the unexpected, designs that they were clearly aware of with Grandmamie, bringing Ricky home would have been less of a challenge.
So what are the lessons to be learned from this case study?
Life has obstacles and they can occur at any age. Some are just temporary and inconvenient. Some are not. But one's home should not contribute to those obstacles when certain changes can be incorporated into any new home or included in any remodeling plans. Costs vary depending on the scope of the project but experience suggests that simple changes to a bath can be less than $1,000. Surveys by groups like the National Association of Home Builders suggest that during new construction, the additional costs can range from 1 to 3%, a very small price to pay considering the alternatives.
• For further information about universal design concepts for your family or to locate a DAASE "StayInPlace" member in your neighborhood who can help create a home for a lifetime, just CLICK HERE.
We've helped many families understand the benefits of staying at home despite ability, agility or age. And many of our members have the skills to work virtually over the Internet to advise and consult, providing solutions you might not have considered.
Submitted by Michael A. Thomas, FASID, CAPS
Michael is the current president of DAASE, an author and designer in Palm Springs, CA who has specialized in designing "inclusive" spaces for home and work environments for more than two decades. Visit his website at www.thedesigncollectivegroup.com