Remembering: Memory Loss on Memorial Day

In the days leading up to Memorial Day, I found myself reflecting on the true meaning of the day.

Memorial Day is commemorated differently. To some it is simply the beginning of summer and an opportunity to gather with friends and family around a BBQ , a beach or park. To others it’s a time to be particularly grateful and honor those who have fought for country and freedom, paying the ultimate price.

I found myself thinking how fragile life is and how for veterans it must be a very personal time to think of friends and shipmates that have gone by, that were lost. It then hit me how fewer and fewer World War II and the Korean War veterans are left and how, because of the current war on terrorism,  there now are also young faces of men and women added on a daily bases to our collective memory of those who have fallen.

One common thread seemed to repeat as I watched veterans and civilians alike line up across the nation to pay homage to heroes: Memorial Day is a day of remembering those who are no longer here, a time of memories replayed loud and clear and in full in our minds. Suddenly I was gripped by a sadness as I wondered how many of those faces maybe slowly suffering from yet another loss in front of my eyes, a loss of exactly those special life shaping memories. How many of these valiant veterans this time next year might not even remember enough to commemorate Memorial Day?

My local involvement with the Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders (UCI MIND) at the University of California, Irvine (www.mind.uci.edu)  and the Alzheimer’s Association (www.alz.org) this year have helped me start to understand more the disorders of the brain, particularly those that are age-related.

5.3 million people have Alzheimer’s.  It’s the 7th leading cause of death in the United States and it has an annual health care cost of 172 billion dollars! From 2000-2006, Alzheimer’s disease deaths increased 46.1 percent, while other selected causes of death (Breast and Prostate Cancer, Heart Disease, Stroke, and HIV) decreased.

The time I have spent involved with these amazing and pioneering organizations came to the forefront of my mind on Memorial Day weekend as I asked myself a few questions regarding how I can, in my professional capacity, perhaps assist those suffering from memory loss through proper design and home modifications.  This becomes especially important in the case where an Alzheimer’s diagnosed loved one remains and is being cared for at home.

Keep in mind that each person suffering from Alzheimer’s is unique in both their stage of the disease and how it unfolds in their specific circumstance. As such, each case may require its own personalized approach when it comes to adaptations intended to help ensure safety and independence.

Apart from some of the aging in place suggestions made in previous articles, there are many things that can be done though the main ones that applies here revolves around Safety.  Here are some simple things that can be done immediately:

  • Place decals on glass patio doors to help prevent them from walking into the glass
  • Lock up medications, matches, razors, lighters, household cleaners and detergents to avoid accidental poisoning or overdosing
  • “Accident-proof” your fridge, cabinets and closets
  • Eliminate all furniture with straight or sharp corners or attach corner pads to them
  • Maintain a consistent furniture layout in the rooms to help avoid disorientation anxiety and agitation due to changes in environment
  • Consistency in all things provides a sense of safety; change on the other hand can be traumatic
  • Use plastic covers for your seating to allow for quick cleaning in case of incontinence, or replace your upholstery with one specific for dealing with this possibility
  • Hang clocks in easy to see areas around the house to help loved ones orient themselves during the day to the passing of time and what time it is
  • Use visual aids like pictures and creative signs to help them associate with areas, functions and objects around the home
  • Avoid using shiny, reflective or flickering objects since they cause confusion and depth perception problems
  • Remove items that look like fake food, such as food or fruit shaped magnets on fridges
  • Use sturdy plastic plates to help avoid breakage and wipe able table clothes for ease of cleaning
  • Plan your meal / food selections so as to allow your loved one ease of independent, safe eating
  • Make sure your trash can has a lid or is in a lockable cabinet to deter dumpster diving. This also helps avoid having loved ones throw away something valuable by mistake
  • Consider removing the dials on the stove or installing stove knob covers to avoid your loved one turning it on and starting a fire or burning themselves
  • Lower the hot water temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees to prevent scalding injuries
  • Hide car keys to avoid your loved one going for a ride and consider a hide-a-key in case your loved one locks you out of the home
  • Seal off outlets and plugs to avoid electrocution
  • Keep fire extinguishers handy in every room
  • Don’t leave lying around items like coffee makers toasters, space heaters that can be a danger to touch
  • Post in a clear place important information like doctors, 911 emergency, local police, fire and ambulance numbers in case you are not around. Other family members or even neighbors may need to intervene and call for help. Ideally this should be near a main easy to find telephone.

These are but a few things we can start to do to better care for loved ones suffering from memory impairment and Alzheimer’s–all the while working hard towards a cure for this debilitating and fatal disease.

Remember, memory loss that disrupts daily life is not a typical part of aging and slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills can be a symptom of Alzheimer’s. (Go to www.alz.org  to learn about the 10 Signs of Alzheimer’s )

So as Memorial Day weekend comes to a close and as we are enjoying that last hot dog or burger around the BBQ, let us make a mental note to educate ourselves about this disease and commit ourselves to helping find a cure for it. After all, it is our precious and priceless memories and our lives that are at stake.

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.

Why to Plan for Age in Place — Even in a Tough Economy

By now we are all somewhat aware of the fact that millions of Americans are living longer and healthier lives. Given that the 65 and over population is expected to increase from approximately 35 million in 2000 to 55 million in 2020,  a lot of time and energy spent on understanding and identifying what the Boomers needs and desires might be regarding their homes. Remodelers, aging in place specialists, caregivers and occupational therapists among others have all joined forces in preparing for this coming Silver Tsunami.

Understanding the changing needs and wants of the aging Boomer generation (those born between 1946 to 1964) will play a critical role in the success or failure of many businesses and industries in the foreseeable future. This generation’s defining desires–to stay in their home as long as possible and ensure the maximum independence possible–will be right up there on their list of wants. The planning behind these needs will have a direct impact on the happiness and fruitfulness of their lives.

For all of us–perfectly healthy or otherwise–our ability to conduct simple daily tasks like cooking and bathing (with safety and efficiency) has a direct effect on our sense of happiness and independence.

Additionally, for some of us who are perhaps just shy of the Boomer generation, or who might have parents that are getting older and might worry about their safety (slipping and falls, getting up stairs), we need to familiarize ourselves with the tools and alternatives out there to help them.  Eventually, many if not all of our lives will be touched by a loved one facing a change in mobility and ambulatory consideration, cognitive awareness or simply temporary disability (not always due to aging either!).

How Big is the Aging in Place Market?

  • 89% of people 50+ wish to remain in their own homes indefinitely (AARP)*
  • 75% of remodelers have seen an increase in requests for aging in place work (NAHB)**
  • 60% of remodelers already perform aging in place work (NAHB)
  • Over half of all 55+ households rate their current home a 9 or 10 out of 10 (American Housing Survey)
  • The aging population is the number two issue to affect the remodeling industry over the next five years, only behind the availability of skilled labor (NAHB)

*American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)
**National Association of Home Builders

At least 20% of Americans are impacted by functional limitations and almost 60 million have some sort of permanent disability. The design or remodeling of homes should start to translate these realities into actual functional and aesthetically-pleasing spaces.

In my opinion, it is unconscionable for any design professional to not take this opportunity to educate the home owner on the ideas and principles of aging in place.  They should also pay keen attention to how it will address and provide for the home owners future demands for the space–not simply their current ones.

Home owners are investing good money in their homes and should be informed that this expenditure, with a slightly modified way of thinking and philosophy in approach, can also comfortably, stylishly and safely serve their possible changing needs over time.

What Should Be Considered When Remodeling For Aging in Place?

  • A low-maintenance exterior
  • Landscape /curb appeal design that considers possible location of future needed ramp(s)
  • Zero threshold entry to the home with some sort of entry canopy or overhang
  • No change in levels on the main floor
  • An open floor plan, especially in the kitchen/dining area
  • Varying heights for eating in kitchen design
  • Multi functional and possibly adjustable height millwork and storage areas
  • Placement of appliances with universal accessibility in mind
  • A master bedroom & bath on the ground floor.
  • Stacking closets for a future elevator shaft
  • Non-slip flooring in all pathways (if not all areas)
  • Wider doorways (minimum 3’ doors)
  • Lever-style door handles throughout
  • Bright lighting in all areas especially places like stairway landings
  • Handrails at all steps (if the home has them)
  • Multiple sources for lighting to reduce glare and shadows
  • Contrasting colors for depth perception in counter and flooring selections and design
  • Grab bars (or at least blocking in walls where they might be needed in the future)
  • Higher-seat toilets

What is the purchasing power of Boomers?

According to industry studies, Boomers control 80% of all the money in savings in the United States and about 75% of all privately held financial assets at any time–regardless of value of those portfolios. As such, this 1/3 of the nation’s population controls 2/3 of the total spending capital and disposal income!

Also keep in mind that even in a tough real estate market, such improvements and modifications may in fact appeal to potential buyers since such home will provide a longer stay. Owning such homes will also make it possible for buyers to address age-related disabilities of visiting older relatives, and make it easier for some to care for live-in parents (known as “sandwich” households).

A recent NAHB survey found that “Seventy percent of homeowners started remodeling projects for aging-in-place because they were planning ahead for such future needs.”

Boomers have defined the mass consumer market trends for the last 40 to 50 years. With their financial clout and their generation’s distinctive sense of self and style, they will continue to drive what sells and what is in demand in the years to come.

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.

The Holidays Are Coming – Visitability – Part 2

Part 2 in a series on Visitability.

The most important thing you can do to make your home visit-able is to ensure that you have at least one zero-step entry into your home. That is access to your home that doesn’t require anyone navigating a change of level or steps. In case you do not have this currenyly you can even rent-a-ramp for the holidays to allow this access into and out of the house if needed.

Make your hallways wider and more accessibility friendly by moving any obstructions such as  furniture from them to facilitate ease of movement for anyone in a wheelchair, walker or mechanical  mobility devices, like a scooter chair. Also remember to remove all area rugs and floor mats since  those are notorious culprits in slip and falls and act as irritating obstacles to any wheelchairs  attempting to achieve firm and safe traction with flooring.

Most elderly family members might also like to congregate in the kitchen and even offer to help or want to help in the preparation of the festivity meals. To make them feel at home and at ease in offering, try to provide some counter space that is lower for them to work at. This can be achieved
by placing a lower table, even a folding card table, at the end of a central island so that they can pull their wheelchair or seat up to it, have enough knee clearance and lend a helping hand.

Another great quick fix is to use a pull-out bread board and have them work off that. Remember sometimes a sit down work surface is in fact appealing to anyone who might be performing repetitive actions like cutting or rolling — be they able-bodied or dealing with a mobility challenge.

Now that the meal is prepared, family and friends will gather around the dining table to share those special moments of communing and partaking in the fabulous feast. Ah but have we pre-planned where our guests who use wheelchairs are going to sit? Given the fact that most dining tables,
especially those with an apron, do not usually have enough knee clearance, we should probably arrange to have the table raised to provide a minimum of 27 inches of clear knee space below. This can be tricky since whatever we do to raise the table must ensure that the table is stable and secured in place.

After the meal is done, we may find some will retire to the closest living room or lounge and for that area of the room to be accommodating you might want to remove any coffee or side tables that make maneuverable pathways narrow or difficult to get around. I can’t tell you how many times I have
knocked my shin against a heavy coffee table as I plumped down on a deep sofa after stuffing myself on turkey. Oh yeah and speaking of that, make sure that all your seating options are not overly soft and unsupported since some of your guests might be elderly and need the support of a firm seat and
arms on a chair to safely sit down and stand up as they eventually make their way to the closest bathroom.

This brings us to the next area of the home that needs some pre-planning and attention. Make sure that at the very least the toilet seat is user-friendly by installing a plastic riser seat which you can get from any local DIY, drug or hardware store. While at the store you can also get yourself some
temporary grab bars that can be connected to the toilet or seat and provide the needed short term support. At your sink area, make sure that you have towels close to the front, perhaps on a floor-standing towel ring, and also tilt the mirror forward a little if you can to insure it is not to high for
use by those who might be in a wheelchair or elderly who have limited movement in their neck, back and shoulders.

Some of your mobility-challenged guests might also be staying overnight and will need some prepared area to bath and sleep. In the case of the bathing, assuming you don’t have a no-curb shower already in your home, simply add a removable transfer bench, preferably with some grab bar supports to a tub or shower and replace or add a hand held shower head to help control the flow
and direction of the water while bathing. These are available at your local hardware store.

At last, everyone is turning in for the night after a day of freedom of mobility and fun festivities. Your special guests have their sleeping accommodations all ready for them with their beds raised on  similar blocking as the dining table to facilitate transferring from their wheelchairs. The beds are also pushed apart to allow maximum maneuverability and visit-ability as the day draws to a close and everyone settles in for the night.

Oh yes and better put the holiday cookies on the lower counter space in the kitchen just in case Santa decides to leave his sleigh at home this year and make his deliveries from the back of a Rascal Turnabout Electric mobility chair! After all he is aging gracefully too, you know.

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.

The Holidays are Coming – Visit-ability (Part One)

“Holidays are coming, holidays are coming, holidays are coming … watch out, look around, something’s coming, coming to town, coming to your town, holidays are coming, something magical, can you see it shining bright? Tis the season …”

These are the lyrics from Coca Cola’s famous “Holidays are Coming” advertising that has been around for decades and usually runs to announce the soon to arrive holiday season.

Here we are again at the beginning of another such season, with Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas on the doorstep. A time for family and friends to visit and share the warmth of the season together – that is assuming our homes are “visit-able.”

Visit-ability, a trend that has been gaining more and more support starting in the mid-80s is a movement/philosophy that seeks to insure that all homes are at least partially accessible to people with mobility impairments, even though those in fact might not be the owners of the homes but rather occasional visitors.

The importance of this simple philosophy can be seen even more when one realizes that America’s 50-plus population is likely to exceed 100 million by 2010. Ten thousand people will reach the age of 50 every single day and this 50-plus consumer base will account for more than one-quarter of all new home sales in the future. One can argue that making a home visit-able may even have a direct positive impact on its resale ability.

In fact, back in 2006 the National Association of Home Builders stated that “Our visiting parents aren’t getting any younger (and neither are we). Visit-ability in entry doors, barrier-free showers and non-stoop dishwashers show buyers you care” were in their list of emerging trends. Visit-ability modifications also make homes easier for people who might develop mobility limitations to still visit friends and family, rather than have to turn down invitations or not be invited at all. Therefore, visit-ability can even act as a first step towards a fully universally-designed home.

These features provide basic universal access and allow currently able-bodied people to remain in their homes if they do in fact develop a disability, and as such to start to age-in-place, rather than to be forced to do expensive renovations, relocate to a different house, live in an inaccessible home which endangers their health and safety, or move from the community they love and feel safe and oriented in into a care facility prematurely.

Many of us baby boomers are also taking care of parents, and parents are visiting their children’s homes or living with us even now, so maybe we should look at the upcoming holiday season as a magical opportunity to prepare our homes to match the warmth of our hospitality through their visit-ability.

So how do we go about making these necessary changes to be able to entertain our families regardless of their individual impairments you ask? Well, some of these modifications can be temporary and barely cost you any money at all.

We’ll cover some of these specifics in Part Two.

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.

Getting Started with DIY Universal Design and Aging in Place

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.

The Why…

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!

The What…

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
  • Hallways
  • Bathrooms
  • Bedrooms
  • Kitchens
  • Garages
  • Stairways
  • Windows
  • Lighting
  • 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?

Bathrooms

  • 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?

Kitchen

  • 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.

The Argument for Aging in Place

If you’re like the majority of Americans, you want to continue living in a familiar environment throughout your maturing years.

In life, sooner or later, the house that was built for an “average” family does not work and one of the greatest concerns people have as they grow older is that they may have to leave their home. In fact an AARP survey found the number of Americans desiring to stay in their homes for the rest of their lives, to “Age in Place”, to be greater than 80%.

Aging in Place means living in your homes safely, independently and comfortably, regardless of age or ability level.

Whether for physical, geographic, or monetary reasons, much of the aging population will someday have to face this issue. This possibly means leaving behind a comfortable living space, family, a familiar community and many memories. In addition, a certain amount of control is lost when a person gives up their home. This “control” provides the bases to our feelings of dignity, quality of life and independence. One’s Home, their Haven, is a strong element in that sense of security.

As health care costs rise and stays at hospitals or even transitional care get shorter, the aging population must decide how they want to spend their hard earned dollars. According to the MetLife Market Survey of Nursing Homes & Assisted Living Costs (October 2008), the national average for a private room in a nursing home is $69,715 annually and for a private room in an assisted living center it is over $36,000. Additionally, given for example the recent budget agreement/deal reached in California this month we can expect less and less social services to be funded leaving many to have to do some serious out of the box thinking of how to stretch their assets further and if one can extend the usability and livability of their current home for a few more years then that might be the smart thing to do.

California has some of the highest nursing home and assisted living costs in the nation so careful consideration must be taken when deciding to give up your home, lose up to 20% of its value in the current real estate market, and pay for these institutions or to instead to choose to “age in place”.

Keep in mind that there is no one size fits all solutions here and seeking the advice of qualified professionals to help you navigate your choices is key. Specialists in A.D.A/ Barrier-free/ Universal design, elderly and in home care and specialty care givers focus on improving quality of life by enabling, enhancing, ensuring and maintaining independence. They will be able to help you develop affordable, effective solutions to create a safe, accessible living environment that would allow anyone, healthy, impaired or disabled to remain in their home or business.

Americans of all ages value their ability to live independently. But without a plan for aging in place, it can be hard to stay in control of your life. Most people find it hard to look that far ahead because they don’t like to think about the inevitability of aging. People often misjudge their chances of developing a debilitating health condition. The fact of the matter is that growing older is a part of life and not enough people adequately plan ahead for the eventual problems of the elderly and disabled. Too much optimism or denial can lead to poor planning.

Photo credit: Bill Barber

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.

Universal Design: And Liberty For All…

Independence is America’s heritage and the 4th of July is a holiday that celebrates the will, courage, spirit and the soul of our nation.  It is when we honor our “declaration” and our liberation from oppression, the establishing of independence, values and noble aspirations through the gathering of family and friends as we are bonded by our common and universal liberty!

According to the dictionary liberty is defined as:

“the quality or state of being free; the power to do as one pleases; freedom from limitation; the positive enjoyment of various rights and privileges; the power of choice! freedom!”

This last weekend was a great time for me to reflect on these words and feelings, as I was trying to compose my first contribution to this blog.  As is the case often when multiple generations come together to celebrate, I had yet another opportunity to witness the enriching benefit — not only to myself — but to the community as a whole, that the companionship, experience and wisdom of seniors brings.

Loss of Freedoms

Many seniors, however, feel like they’ve lost their liberty, freedom of choice and independence as they age, even in their own homes.  In fact many are having to consider staying in their own homes longer due to a number of factors, not the least of which is the current downturn in the economy. And yet in order to do so, modifications are needed for them to remain there in comfort and safety.

Unsurprisingly when asked, people as a whole just want to stay home and families want to stay together. In fact, according to a recent study by AARP, “83% of today’s Boomers  aged 55-64 plan to age in place.”  And yet an essential component of this trend, the use of universal design to accommodate aging in place, is still as infrequently applied in the residential arena today as it was in 1994 when I graduated from design school!

What is Universal Design?

Universal design is a philosophy to create through conscious awareness appropriate living environments, places and products that everyone can use safely and comfortably regardless of their changing needs overtime as they age.  It strives to be responsive to the needs of as many people as possible, regardless of age, mobility, gender, race, language or economic status – thus the word “universal!”

In fact, everyone can benefit from incorporating universal design into their projects. It doesn’t matter if you are young or old, able or disabled, building a new home or making changes to your existing one.

Universal Design Features

Some basic universal design features include step-free entrances, wide enough interior doorways, corridors and passage ways.  For example, a floor plan where a bedroom, kitchen, some entertainment space and at least one full bathroom with maneuvering space for a wheelchair or walker enables in-home care.  It also enables a caregiver to effectively perform their duties.

In upcoming blogs we will explore the many issues surrounding the concept of aging in place.  We’ll look at its many definitions as it applies to one’s own home, downsizing, continuing care retirement communities (CCRC), other venues for long term or transitional care.

We’ll also look at the growing trend of making our homes “visitable” or designed in such a way that it can be lived in or visited by people who have trouble with steps or who use wheelchairs or walkers.  We’ll look at the different ways universal design can create for everyone their own Independence Day!

photo credit: Raad Ghantous

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.

Guest Writer Raad Ghantous – Universal Design Meets Spa Luxury

We are in the midst of a massive generational shift.  Much has been written about the demographics of Baby Boomers and how it represents the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of the world.

But not much has been written about the non-economic impact of Baby Boomers and how our system of elder care must adapt to care for them.

Regardless of whether you prefer home care, aging in place, independent living or assisted living, Baby Boomers require a new way of thinking.

They are living different lifestyles and have different preferences.  They are technology-savvy and more connected online.

What has to change in terms home and elder care community design to accommodate these preferences?

Enter Raad Ghantous.

I’d like to welcome to Inside Elder Care family  guest writer Raad Ghantous.  Raad is a veteran interior designer with a focus on universal design. Raad has worked on some of those most prestigious designs in the world, including the Hilton Osaka (Osaka, Japan), the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort (Sacaton, Artizon)  and the Grand Hyatt Dubai.  He also has deep experience designing multi-use spa and healing centers, a growing option of natural healthcare worldwide.

His combination approach of luxury, practicality and functionality along with an in depth understand of universal design make him uniquely qualified and make me thrilled to have him on board.

Raad will be sharing a series of articles discussing the importance of universal design and the issues to consider as Baby Boomers transition to the next generation of seniors.

Look out for Raad’s first article.