Aging in Place

By: Danny Lipford

Elderly woman in wheelchair

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This episode based in Houston, Texas, explores how to modify a new or existing home so it continues to function for its homeowners as they age. Some of the same modifications can be used whether you’re taking care of an aging parent or you’re a baby-boomer thinking ahead.

As we get older every day tasks often become more difficult. This can create limitations and challenges in accessing all or part of your home. For example, going up and down stairs can become a challenge. Whether you or a family member has a physical limitation caused by age, illness or an accident the concept of “aging in place” may be just the solution.

Aging in place addresses the changes that need to be made to a home in order to make it more accessible and continue to function the way the homeowner needs it to, which means a homeowner can remain within the familiar surroundings of their own home rather than move to another home or facility. Adapting an existing home to meet the needs of the homeowner is important because 25% of the U.S. population is over 65 years of age or has some type of disability. For some people this means their home no longer meets their needs.

In recent years, the physical needs of homeowner Deloris Sanders had changed making her every day activities more of a challenge. Her son Larry shared with us the challenges they faced and how they planned to address them so that Deloris could remain independent.

Bathroom toilet and sink that have been modified for easier access.

Bathroom toilet and sink that have been modified for easier access.

Reconstructing the existing bathroom so that it was more convenient for Deloris to use with her wheelchair was top priority. Larry found a contractor, Dan Bawden, who specialized in this type of renovation. Dan carried the CAPS (Certified Aging in Place Specialist) credentials, which meant he had completed extensive training, through the Remodelers council of the National Association of Home Builders, to modify homes so that people could remain in them as they get older without having to move to nursing homes or assisted living.

In addition to their contractor, the Sanders family also turned to an interior decorator to make sure the bathroom was as aesthetically pleasing as it was functional. The curbless shower with sloped floor for water drainage was decked out in an attractive ceramic tile. This was not only stylish but would easily accommodate a wheelchair. From grab bars to toilet position and counter height everything was designed with the homeowner’s accessibility in mind but also tailored to her taste.

The granite countertop and white sink are very fashionable as is the beveled mirror which has the ability to tilt according to the needs of the homeowner. And the modern waterfall faucet with lever style handle doesn’t even require using fingers to turn on and off. The slide bar shower head can be easily raised or lowered whether for a tall person, a child or someone in a wheelchair.

Sink, shower, and tub that have been adapted for easier access.

Bathroom sink, shower, and tub that have been adapted for easier access.

As far as other areas of the home, Dan made sure that the entrance to the home was no longer an obstacle by building a ramp over the threshold and out over the side walk. A new threshold that springs down from the inside of the door was also installed. This way the door would remain properly sealed but at the same time a wheelchair would have no problem rolling through the entryway smoothly.

Swing away hinges were used throughout the home to gain a few inches and give Deloris the extra room needed to comfortably maneuver her wheelchair. This approach was definitely less expensive than widening doorways.

In addition Dan made sure more natural light was introduced in to the home with skylights because as we all know as we get older we often start to lose our ability to see well. The skylights can be easily controlled with the push of a remote control button.

Other Tips from This Episode

Simple Solutions with Joe Truini:
Using a Rubber Mallet

Black marks on a board caused by a rubber mallet.

Rubber mallets are great for assembling everything from furniture to flooring without damaging the surface, but the black rubber can leave marks that are hard to remove. To keep black marks from marring the surface, place the head of the mallet inside a white sock before using. Another option is to pad the head of a hammer by putting a white rubber chair leg or cane tip over the head and use it for assembling.

Best New Products with Danny Lipford:
Ridgid Stor-N-Go Shop Vac

Ridgid Stor-N-Go Shop Vac

Shop vacs are great tools to have around the house for vacuuming up everything from sawdust to liquid spills, but they can take up a lot of floor space in a garage or workshop. To solve this problem Ridgid came up with the Stor-N-Go, a shop vac that mounts on the wall where it’s out of the way while still being easy to access. The Ridgid Stor-N-Go is available at The Home Depot.

Around the Yard with Tricia Craven Worley:
Cardboard Box Leaf Raking Tip

Raking leaves into a cardboard box.

A medium sized cardboard box makes a perfect receptacle for filling with leaves when raking the yard. Simply tape the bottom of the box tightly together with packing tape, and cut off three of the four flaps on the box lid, leaving one flap on the wide side of the box. Lay the box on the ground with the flap extended, put your foot on the flap to hold it in place, and rake leaves into it.



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