Sure you’re an “active adult,” but are you proactive or reactive?
In the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, Stephen Covey focuses on the importance of character when defining effectiveness stating that the first habit for developing character is Be Proactive. Covey explains it this way:
“Reactive people are driven by feelings, circumstances, conditions, and the environment. Proactive people are driven by carefully considered, selected and internalized values. Taking the initiative …. means recognizing our responsibility to make things happen.”
This means that for many of us there are two ways to choose to live: either we are intentional and proactive or we can be habitual and reactive. We can either consciously strive for a life that we really want or we can live in a default setting, unconsciously reacting to whatever life throws at us.How does this apply to universal design and aging in place you ask? Or why would I even choose to start this blog post with such a quote?
I have been asked by many to start discussing specific enhancement one can do to their home and make it more a home for a lifetime. This will be the main area of blogging for the next few postings. Before we get to what modifications we can do, I wanted to take a moment and explain why we should do them.
We should all be considering including aging in place options into any remodeling – even in this economy – so that we can be proactive in securing our, and our family’s future. As we live longer, the chance of experiencing an unfortunate accident or other mobility or sensory impairment increases. Given that it isn’t a matter of “if” but “when,” wouldn’t we rather go through those circumstances in our own homes while saving thousands of dollars as well?
Changes in ability can make our daily routines increasingly difficult. Our homes can change to meet our new needs rather than us having to adjust our behavior to make up for its shortcomings.
True independent living is achieved only through proactive universal design that complements our individual life styles and protects our quality of life. Being Proactive means freedom and specifically a freedom and willingness to embrace change assertively!
So now that we have an understanding of “why,” let’s start exploring “what” we should look for when performing a home accessibility check. The main areas that Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS) look at are:
- Entry ways
- Exterior of the home
The solutions and suggestions that are developed after such a check are focused primarily on greatly increasing the comfort, safety and accessibility of the home.
Below are some questions you should ask about your home. I consider it a “quick check” for universal design. Let’s look at the hallways, bathrooms and kitchen.
Some questions to consider:
- Are your entries barrier-free and allow for the use of a wheelchair, walker or scooter?
- How about your hallways are they wide enough to allow the same?
- Do they have adequate night-lights?
- How about at the top and bottom of stairways?
- Do they have enough maneuverability for a wheelchair or a walker?
- Do you have enough behind the wall support in case you need to install grab bars in the future?
- Is there at least one no curb shower in the home with a hand held adjustable showerhead?
- Are there any countertops at a height conducive for someone using a walker or in a wheelchair with enough clearance below?
- How about the sink area, cooking surfaces, or storage?
- How accessible are those areas or the appliances?
- For example in some cases dishwashers need to be raised to allow accessibility an idea that is beneficial for everyone since it reduces the distance even disabled persons have to bend down and up when loading and unloading it.
As you can see, we have just started to scratch the surface. There is a lot to cover in the area of modifications and options and this will be our focus in upcoming articles.
We will strive to discuss these important areas in our homes in depth and provide both no-cost / low-cost modification options anyone can do over the course of a few weekends. We’ll also outline larger scale modifications that may require some outside help to make your home more livable and accessible.
About the Author: Raad Ghantous is the principal of Raad Ghantous & Associates and is an expert in luxury hospitality, wellness centers, and medical & day spa developments. He is also the owner of Your Home For A Lifetime, an A.D.A/ Barrier-free/ Universal design/Aging in place, full service design/build firm with over 15 years of experience specializing in developing integrating elegant and seamless designs/modifications to new or existing structures.