Elsie and John are in their mature senior years and live in their fifty year old home. Elsie and John are relatively healthy for their ages and are living on their fixed retirement that hasn’t increased since John retired thirty years ago. Sure, they receive Social Security but with the cost of their medication and the increasing cost of living, things are getting pretty tight. Elsie and John haven’t had the money to put into their home so the home is beginning to show its age and things are breaking down.
Elsie and John are considering making a move to a different home that will be easier to take care of and safer for them. They decided to sit down and make a list of some things that would be beneficial in their new home. Following are some of the items they placed on their list for optimum safety and comfort at the exterior entry:
- At least one entrance will need to be on the level so there would be no steps to navigate.
- An ideal situation for entrance accessibility would be a level surface with no ramp or stairs required. This is the safest and least expensive approach to the home. If this is not be possible, a ramp with a 1:12 or greater slope would be the next best choice. (For those not sure what that means, it means the ramp will go up no more than one foot in a twelve foot length of space). The drawback to the ramp in front of the home is that it is almost a billboard announcing someone older or with a disability lives there.
- If a ramp is required, they will need to consider access through the garage. A ramp or a special lift (think motorized platform) will need to be installed in the garage providing a protected entrance from the elements. This would also be their best choice from a safety point.
- Their main entrance they will use will need to be at least three foot wide. Their optimum choice would be one of the newer, wider entrance doors that are more than 36 inches wide for easier maneuverability. Ever have to carry a bunch of groceries through a smaller doorway? Everyone will benefit from a wider doorway.
- The threshold should be flush or less than 1/4” difference.
- The front door and door at the level entrance will need a lever handle. The levers will be easier to open if there is any kind of limited dexterity.
- The exterior doors will need to be equipped with dead-bolt locks as well.
- There will need to be a peep-hole that is at Elsie and John’s eye levels too.
- The Exterior lighting should be installed so it doesn’t create a blinding glare. The fixtures should cast light downward, not horizontally. A light shining in their eyes and blinding them is less than ideal. If they aren’t the right fixtures then the fixtures will need to be shaded to reduce glare and avoid creating shadows because it could hide intruders and can hide tripping hazards. At the very least, a frosted light bulb rather than a clear one will be needed for clear glass enclosed fixtures.
- The landscaping will need to provide easy access to utilities like electrical panels, gas or water shut off valves and fire hydrant. Easy access to these items will make it safer for them to access and for repairs or serviceability.
- The Street numbers will need to be easy to read from the curb. A Lighted street number sign and the numbers painted on their curb will be needed. Time is of the essence in an emergency and should not be lost by emergency responders trying to find their right address.
The exterior entry is an important first step for Elsie and John’s list. This list is not all-inclusive but it is a good start. I hope you will follow us as Elsie and John determine the best options for their mature living home. The AARP site has a link to locate a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) who can help you with your own mature living at home recommendations. Each family has unique needs and situations that should be evaluated. Not all recommendations and Aging In Place modifications require extensive remodeling or moving. Remember that Aging In Place is really about making your home safe and comfortable for you and everyone in your home.
Written by Alesha E. Churba, the only Certified Aging in Place Specialist with experience in Residential and Commercial Interior Design and Decorating in Southeast Idaho. Her business niche is primarily designing and decorating with her clients futures in mind- i.e. aging in place, color story investment, and designing for the long term safety and comfort of her clients. Alesha resides in Pocatello, Idaho. (208)-313-6414. Alesha@aechurba-design.com http://aechurba-design.com.
Art Dunn of Nanlow-Dunn, Inc. (YourHomeServesYou) has generously shared several safety and home electrical tips in addition to my information within this blog. Art brings first hand experience in several electrical fields ranging from electrician to burglar alarm company contractor to home automation. His experience and expertise will enhance the practical, real world solutions I provide. He will continue to collaborate with me in future blog entries as well. Please visit his website for more information in addition to what is presented within these entries and check back often for more practical information you can use in your home whether you are choosing to age in place or are planning for an active retirement.