Consumer E-Newsletter - 12/12/2006 (Plain Text Version)
In this issue:
What's Aging in Place Anyway?
The reality of getting older becomes quite clear as our homes suddenly seem full of barriers. This becomes glaringly evident when a parent comes to live with you. Mom can’t climb the stairs to her bedroom since she came home from surgery. Dad now has to use a wheelchair since his stroke and can’t get into the bathroom, or even get over the step-ups at the entry doors. Sound familiar?
America needs trained remodelers, designers and builders to fix our homes so we can comfortably “age in place.” The National Association of Home Builders Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) training program is about helping you create your “livable home” — whether it is new construction or retrofitting your existing residence.
CAPS has builders, architects, remodelers, designers, and even occupational therapists buzzing. Far beyond using “universal design” ideas, aging-in-place principles are sweeping changes designed to custom-fit your home to you and your family. CAPS design takes your current and future circumstances into consideration and focuses on elegant, aesthetically enriching and barrier-free environments. These are changes that can actually increase the value of your home, according to some realtors.
Aging-in-Place Economics 101
The economics of doing aging-in-place modifications are a no-brainer. Relocating to a typical assisted living facility can cost upwards of $40,000 per year, plus the cost of moving. The cost to widen the bathroom door, add safety bars and a roll-in shower would typically cost about $5,000 to $6,000, but it’s a one-time expense.
In addition to the economics, consider the psychological impact of being uprooted from your community, familiar rituals, independence and privacy. The affordability of aging-in-place remodeling is enhanced by the fact that medically necessary changes (such as wider doorways or a roll-in shower) can be deductible on your taxes, if backed up by a letter from your doctor.
How Can You Age in Place?
The CAPS program connects responsible professionals with homeowners who need these services on an ever-increasing basis.
Look for the CAPS credential as a reliable way to identify professionals to modify your home or build a new one that is designed for a lifespan. CAPS graduates receive training about the technical/construction aspects and learn about the unique aspects of working with older Americans. They must also take formal business training, maintain their credential through continuing education and subscribe to a Code of Ethics.
What Kind of Changes Are We Talking About?
· Getting safely and securely in and out of the house
· Better outdoor lighting, like path lighting to the front or rear door
· Attractive ramps or a “zero-step entrance” for the home
· A package shelf by front door
· Adding handrails at existing steps and porches
· Avoiding stairs: one-story ranch designs for new homes and first-floor bedrooms for two-story homes
Changes in the kitchen typically include:
· Lever-handle faucets with pull-out sprayer
· Raised dishwasher to avoid back strain (a good idea for front-loading washers and dryers, too)
· Rolling island that can be placed back under the counter
· Revolving corner shelves and pull-out shelves
· Lower, side-opening oven
· Pull-out cutting board
· Adjustable height sink
· Side-by side refrigerator with slide-out shelves and a water/ice dispenser
· Cooking range with controls on front
· Larger cabinet, drawer pulls
Changes in the bathrooms, the number one place for accidents in your home, include:
· Installing two to three attractive looking grab bars in shower
· Lever handles on faucets
· Slide-bar-type hand-held shower, for sitting or standing
· Inset shampoo nooks
· Curbless showers — nothing to step over, and can be rolled into if a wheelchair becomes necessary later
· Tub and shower controls moved closer to entry point
· Anti-scald, temperature and pressure balanced tub shower valves for safer bathing
· Widening entry doors to at least 32”
· 32”-36” pocket doors
· Higher toilets
Moving around in the house:
· Improving lighting with recessed fixtures in common areas and hallways
These are just a few examples. Virtually all rooms of your house can be improved, even closets and garages.
This article cannot be reprinted without permission of the author.
For more information or to contact us directly, please visit www.NAHB.org | ©2003, National Association of Home Builders