Limit Step-overs in the Bathroom
Beasley believes that in older homes, the bathtub/shower combination is the most difficult and dangerous part of the bathroom to maneuver in. Those lucky enough to have a toilet adjacent to the tub can lower the lid and use that to transfer into the tub. But, especially when there is one-wall plumbing, the home owner still has to worry about banging into the plumbing when getting in.
“You’re almost forced to step into the middle of the tub,” Beasley points out, “and there’s nothing you can hang on to. It’s worse getting out.”
It wasn’t always like this. Many upscale properties at the turn of the last century were elegantly equipped with bathroom grab bars, Beasley explains. That changed with the post-World War II housing boom.
Today, many of Beasley’s clients ask him to design larger bathrooms for their renovations or new homes. His designs include separate tubs and showers with tub surrounds or ledges for clients to sit on when getting into their tubs. “A lot of what I do is designed so my clients do not have to step over anything.”
Strategically placed grab bars are making their way back into bathrooms. Some are disguised as towel bars. Others are decorative. At least one manufacturer offers them in about 30 colors to match tiles, fixtures and paint.
Proper Stairway Lighing Is Important
Because stairway falls are a leading cause of home injuries, Beasley says proper stairway lighting is very important.
“With seniors, lighting is extremely critical. Most homes are not well lit because home owners were expected to bring in their own lighting,” he says. That’s changing. Architects are adding more recessed lighting, decorative lighting and more lighting in general.
Almost Half Those Over 65 Have Severe Arthritic Conditions
Beasley also points to the importance of installing easier-to-use lever door handles and faucets in homes. “About half the people in the U.S. over 65 have severe arthritic conditions that make operating doorknobs and faucets difficult. I try to use hardware that doesn’t require grasping or pinching. Those are great solutions.”
Many of Beasley’s clients live in the Washington, D.C. area and want to live in homes in established neighborhoods with mature trees. That usually means older homes, and his challenge is to make them more liveable. “Almost without exception, the homes that are modified weren’t designed to have any interaction with the backyard,” Beasley notes. “We usually expand the kitchen and family room and create a landscaped backyard that is an extension of the home.
“There’s a certain amount of diagnostics involved, but in the end, the home owner has a much more spacious environment to live in, entertain in and have the grandkids over,” he says. “It’s much more usable space and much safer.”
To read "Universal Design Features: Perfectly Concealed," an article in this issue of NBN Online about how to include universal design in upscale homes, click here.
Attend the 2005 Seniors Housing Symposium in Metro Washington, D.C. Area
Learn more about the fastest-growing segment of the housing market. Plan to attend Building for Boomers & Beyond: Seniors Housing Symposium 2005, the premier educational and networking event for industry professionals serving the burgeoning 50+ market. For more information, click here.
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