We recently went through a unique experience with my wife’s parents. As they were growing older, we noticed they were having more difficulty going about their day-to-day lives, even simple tasks such as moving throughout the home and going in and out of various rooms were becoming complicated and causing issues. We had a discussion, and were weighing out the various options, such as moving them into a permanent senior care facility, hiring an individual to help us take care of them such as Seniors Helping Seniors, or taking steps on our own to ensure that their own home was safe and secure, and easy for them to navigate and go about their daily routines.
After much contemplation, research, and long nights, we decided to choose option three, which was performing a variety of renovations and remodeling ideas to not only be safe and secure for the parents, but to also make sure we kept their original home’s “comfortable” levels, and didn’t perform renovations that end up making the home look like a nursing facility. In this case, we decided it was important to leave as many of the old furnishings around the home, which contributes to the original colors, textures, and surroundings of the building, which not only have personal memories ingrained in them over time, but contribute to the overall feeling of being comfortable inside the residence as well. The last thing we wanted to do was create a sterile, hospital-like environment that is extremely safe, but not comfortable at all.
There were many different products and ideas that we came across that not only helped to make the entire home safer for seniors, but also didn’t detract from the styling of the home’s interior as well. Some of the best ideas that we ended up implementing into the final design were:
1. Entryways that were step-free, which made the entire residence not only wheel-chair accessible, but easier for both walkers and canes as well. Stairs were the #1 issue that we wanted to tackle first, to ensure that the benefits of the upgrades were immediately noticeable, and helped plan out for any future contingencies as well.
2. Shorter-height counters were another product that we installed throughout the home as well. The original home design had many counters that were tall, and required a ladder or step stool in order to reach them, which was a hazardous design that could lead to very dangerous situations.
3. Increased visibility throughout the home was another aspect we wanted to touch on, because as we age, our eyesight tends to deteriorate drastically, causing many potential falls and slips to occur when walking around the home.
4. We also took steps to purchase and install a shower specifically made for helping those with limited mobility. The shower has a special bench inside, and does not feature any sort of step, it can be entered by someone in a wheelchair or those using a cane or walker.
The most important steps we took when designing and implementing these ideas was to make sure that the original attitude and personality of the house remained the same, even though there were many changes going on. The installations and design modifications were slowly added, so that the house wasn’t drastically changed in the span of a weekend.