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My Neighbor’s hands

I read a fantastic article written by a friend of mine, Aaron D. Murphy, an architect in the Seattle area. He talks about his aging parents, then essentially takes a snapshot of the moment in time that he finds himself living in.

I am about 800 miles away from my folks, but the reality is, my situation is not so far removed. My folks are active and live at home, and they are fortunate enough to have remodeled regularly and adjusted to their evolving needs.

My suspicion is that there are thousands of us all over the Boise, Idaho area with similar situations, but we are distracted by the hustle bustle of daily life, We’re always  just a little too busy to take some progressive action and update own homes, or our parents homes.

What dawned on me, while achieving my NARI Universal Design Certification, is that is that so much has changed in the past 50 years, which was when most of the post WWII homes were built.

Medicine and technology is allowing us to have a decent quality of life long into our 80’s and beyond. We are living longer and running into situations that we never dreamed of when most of our older homes were built.

My neighbor Theresa turned 95  a few days ago. That is nearly twice the life expectancy of when she was born. She has had her washer and dryer moved upstairs into a closet and has had her kitchen and her bathroom remodeled, adding natural light. We have also updated her security lighting and set her bedroom up just like she wanted it, with a TV large enough for her to see, and lots of lights within reach. One of her favorite upgrades is the keyless entry system that allows those with a need to enter without her coming to the door. The magic for her is in the family that visits regularly and a part time care giver that does basic tasks several times a week.

Levco’s Universal Design Logo

The savings is astonishing. The cost for housing in an assisted living facility is between $3,500-7,000/ month. The more care you need, the more you pay. I had one client that was looking at $11,000 / month for a parents care. A major bathroom remodel and several doorway enlargements, a $23,000 project, was a drop in the bucket for him.

Why not take some of that money and have a bathroom or kitchen updated? Have some doorways widened and tripping hazards eliminated? Make some energy upgrades while you are at it. Rebuild a stairway to make is safer, and add railing to both sides. Make sure all of the smoke detectors are tied together, and add a water alarm and a carbon monoxide detector too. An ounce of prevention…need I say more.

The common misconception is that the home will look like an institution, with grab bars at every turn, with toilet adapters and institutional flooring.

Sure, grab bars are a part of making a home safer, but there are so many different options on the market. A properly remodeled Universal Design approved kitchen or bath can be a joy for all ages and abilities to work in. If it helps, consider what you’re doing is adding  “visitability” features, or making your own home safe for others to visit.

The pillars of Universal Design are based upon better lighting, proper spacing of things and easy access for bathing and safety. Imagine the joy of enabling your parents to be able to stay in their home as they age. Benefits extend beyond the obvious financial savings of not being institutionalized to quality of life, prevention of injury, and preservation of dignity. For more inspiration on the subject here another site to visit that Aaron moderates.

Now is the time to explore ways to make a home safer and a better living experience for our aging population. Give Levco a call today 208-947-7261 for an in home evaluation appointment.