Guest Blog by Kent Elliot
A 2016 report published by Home Advisor revealed that a majority of aging Americans — 61 percent, in fact — want to age in place rather than seek a place in an assisted living or some other senior facility. The 2016 report indicated that seniors want to remain at home to be near their families or to maintain their independence. However, in many cases, aging in place is only possible with home modifications that allow older adults to care for themselves, or which make it easier for another to provide assistance. Modifications are often necessary to aid mobility, accessibility, and safety so a senior can remain at home with minimal risk of injury.
Accessibility modifications include widening doorways to at least 36 inches to accommodate a wheelchair, which can be an expensive modification. However, for those on a budget, the addition of expandable door hinges can do the job at a fraction of the cost. Hallways may also require widening. For seniors in a wheelchair or who need a walker, an accessibility ramp may be necessary if there are stairs leading to the front entryway. Also, thick rugs and carpeting present a mobility challenge for wheelchairs, as can uneven transitions between rooms, which may require the use of durable transition ramps.
The bathroom is definitely the most dangerous room for seniors, regardless of age or condition. More seniors fall in the bathroom than in any other part of the home, and as such, it requires extensive safety modifications to protect seniors from being seriously injured in a room where moisture and slick, hard surfaces present a constant threat. This is why grab rails, roll-in tubs, or zero-entry showers (with a place to sit) are also important for mobility-challenged seniors.
Other important bathroom modifications should include an elevated toilet seat and safety rails alongside to avoid falls. Also, don’t forget to lay a skid-resistant mat in front of the toilet, especially if the bathroom floor is covered in tile or laminate. Replace door knobs with levers, which are easier for an older adult to use, particularly in dim lighting where vision and one’s grip are less confident. Install a roll-under sink that’s low enough for a wheelchair, and make sure there’s enough space in the bathroom for a wheelchair to maneuver without difficulty.
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, a bathroom space should be 30 inches by 48 inches to accommodate a wheelchair. (In Lane County, Oregon, contact our team at Fort Rock Construction about making bathroom modifications in your home.)
It’s a fact of life that one’s eyesight diminishes with age. That can be a dangerous situation for an older adult who wants to age in place because dimly light hallways and rooms with light switches that are difficult to find or reach present a significant safety threat. In general, white bulbs that don’t create glare are good options in poorly lit locations, while motion sensors may be the best idea for seniors who get confused at night and have trouble finding light switches. LED night lights in the bathroom, hallway, and bedroom are also smart preventative measures.
Seniors who are able to age at home are more optimistic and tend to be more physically and socially active than those who need help with day-to-day living. That’s an important factor when you consider the potential impact of an aging Baby Boomer population on the country demographically, politically, and economically. The number of Americans age 65 and over will double by 2050, a group with the potential to have a positive and lasting effect on society.
Guest Blog by Kent Elliot
Aging in place is gaining in popularity among baby boomers, many of whom prefer the comforts of home to assisted-living facilities. However, this requires a number of modifications to prevent accidents and ensure their dwelling is safe. Among the most important is improved lighting, which can not only prevent accidents related to poor vision but also gives a boost to mobility and overall quality of life. If you’re planning to enjoy your golden years where you’ve always lived, here are a few things to do.
Study Your Options
Lumens, watts, CFLs, LEDs, ambient and task lighting. That seems like a lot of technical mumbo-jumbo, but you need to know what it means if you’re going to provide the right illumination throughout your home. To get started on the basics, lumens refers to the amount of light that a bulb sheds, and the higher the number, the brighter it is. Watts, meanwhile, is the amount of energy that the bulb uses.
Get Enough Ambient Light
This is general background lighting coming from a fixture on the ceiling. You’re looking for evenness in rooms and hallways as older eyes tend to be less responsive to changes in level. According to Luvozo, which provides services to senior living communities, 30 lumens per square foot is the right amount for ease of mobility and preventing falls.
Maximize Task Lighting
Small lamps on tables and desks provide the light you need for reading without squinting your eyes to see the fine print. Consider ones with LED bulbs that don’t need to be changed as often, which reduces the risk that you’ll burn yourself in the process. There are even models available that allow you to alter the color temperature and avoid frequencies that disturb your sleep.
Brighten Up the Bathroom
Roughly 80 percent of older adults experience a fall because of the slippery surfaces. However, several accidents can be reduced by making sure the bathroom is well lit. First off, keep the switch on the exterior to avoid having to enter and feel around for it in the dark. As for the interior, an expert tells Professional Remodeler magazine that 75 to 100 watts of illumination should do the trick.
Cut Risks in the Kitchen
This is another area that requires special attention as not seeing whether the oven is on or off can have disastrous consequences. The folks at Progress Lighting recommend layered lighting to compensate for any decreases in vision as well as cabinet task lights to keep your eyes focused clearly on the chopping board while you’re slicing and dicing.
Pay Attention to Stairways
Around 12,000 people die each year falling down stairs, which are particularly dangerous for the elderly. Besides, brightening them up makes it easier to get up and down late at night and early in the morning without any undue strain on your eyes. The easiest solution is having an electrician install bright lights at the bottom as well as the top to reach each and every step.
Add Style to Your Living Room
You should consider your overall comfort while you’re reading, watching TV and entertaining guests. Add a source of ambient light like a chandelier or pendant in addition to a few accent lamps in your living room, which can draw attention to your favorite decorations.
Explore High-Tech Solutions
The smart home revolution makes it easier for seniors to stay at home in comfort and convenience. Imagine motion sensors that turn lights on automatically in the hallway when you head to the bathroom late at night. That can be yours as well as full control over all the lighting throughout the home via smartphone so you’re not fumbling for a switch when you walk in.
Making these adjustments to your home might take some time and energy, but it’s the bright thing to do for your own safety and comfort as well as that of the rest of your family.
For assistance with an aging in place remodel for your home, please contact Fort Rock Construction at 541-767-1611. We're certified aging in place experts and serve homeowners throughout the Eugene-Springfield area.
If you're thinking about where you want to live as you get older, consider the benefits of adding on to your existing home. When you live in a neighborhood that you already like, and if you have a plot of land large enough for a one-two room expansion, this can often be a great solution.
Adding a ground-level room (or two) to your home can make aging in place more feasible as single story access to your kitchen, living room, etc. is more comfortable without the need of stairs. The upstairs portion of your home can be used by those living with you, whether that's younger family members or live-in care providers.
If an addition is not possible, you can also consider converting your garage into ground-level living space. Many things can be done with a garage to make it into a grand master suite or even a mother-in-law unit.
At Fort Rock Construction, we have many years of experience helping homeowners add valuable living space to their homes with additions and garage conversions. Give us a call today at 541-767-1611 to discuss your needs and explore options.
Approximately 75% of people assume that home modifications hurt the resale value of a home, but this is not always the case. In fact, some modifications, especially if they are done in a style that matches well with the home, can have a positive impact on the resale value.
How much do modifications hurt or help your resale value?
The truth is it's not possible to put an exact value on specific modifications because a number of factors have influence, including the style of home, its location and the target buyer demographic. However, one way to help manage this positive or negative swing is the implementation of the principle of Universal Design.
Universal Design refers to a home design that is safe and usable for people of all ages and abilities, including those with disabilities. Universal Design is built into the home's basic design, rather than added as an afterthought. This means that Universal Design elements work with the home's architecture. But if your home is already built, you can still incorporate the concepts of Universal Design to the changes you plan to make. Some features of a Universal Design home include:
Overall, these types of changes do not significantly affect the aesthetic of the home, and as such do not hurt its resale value. Studies have shown that Universal Design modifications can, in fact, help your home's resale value.
If you'd like to explore how to incorporate Universal Design into your home to improve accessibility, please give us a call at 541-767-1611. Fort Rock Construction has been serving homeowners in Eugene, Springfield and the surrounding areas since 2001.
When it comes to accessibility, few rooms are as important as the bathroom. This is a space we spend time in every single day and having it right for our individual needs makes a difference. If you have accessibility needs, this becomes even more important. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you are looking to create an accessible bathroom in your home or place of work.
Doorways — To accommodate walkers, wheelchairs, and other assistance devices, you will want to widen any doorways to no less than 36 inches. This provides ample room for a person to enter the bathroom with ease.
Pull Handles vs. Knobs — Along with a wider doorway, change out traditional doorknobs for pull handles. This enables those who have difficulty gripping or turning knobs to securely open and close the door.
Levered Faucets — Similar as with the doorknobs, you will want to replace sink and shower knobs with levered faucets. These types of devices are more comfortable for those with accessibility issues to use.
Light Switches & Latches — Wherever possible, look for ways to lower the height of light switches and latches so those who are in wheelchairs can reach them more easily. The standard height of 48 inches for light switches is the maximum height for ADA compliance. Lowering switches to a height between 15-42 inches complies with ADA standards and makes accessibility easier.
Counter Height — Just as other items in your bathroom are lowered to accommodate accessibility needs, so should your counters. Ideally, not only should the counters be lowered, but they should also have open space below such that a wheelchair can roll up and have room for leg space. Ideal height for wheelchair accessible counters is approx. 34 inches.
Grab Bars — Grab bars are essential for those who need help transitioning from a wheelchair to or from a toilet, as well as for safety in and around tubs and showers. Be sure to have these installed securely so they can withstand the pressure of a person's body weight.
Showers/Tubs — If your bathroom has a shower or tub, look to modify the space with either a roll-in shower or a walk-in tub. Also, plan to add a seat in your shower designed specifically to help with accessibility. The decorative seats provided in most pre-formed shower inserts are not sufficient.
If you would like assistance with any of these bathroom accessibility modifications, please give the team at Fort Rock Construction a call today at 541-767-1611. We are certified accessiblity experts and have been serving the Willamette Valley since 2001.
As you age, it's not uncommon to contemplate where you want to live as you get older. Depending on your health needs, there are several options available, from luxury retirement to independent or assisted living communities. But what if you want to stay in your own home? With the proper accommodations, staying in your own home, or aging in place, can be achieved.
What does aging in place require?
Most homes are constructed to meet minimum requirements for things like entry access (typically stairs), door width, hallway width, counter height, the height of knobs, door locks, etc. A standard is set that accommodates the typical able-bodied adult. But, as you age, your body may start to experience limitations. Maybe you can't climb those stairs as easily, maybe reaching the top shelf in the kitchen is difficult, or perhaps you no longer have the finger strength to open up kitchen or bathroom cabinets. The list goes on depending on your individual needs.
Aging in place takes a person's physical limitations into account for how a space is designed. When aging in place standards are used, you'll see adaptations like a ramp to the front door instead of steps, pull handles on cabinets instead of finger grooves, shower and bathtub modifications to provide greater safety, etc.
If you suspect you'll want to stay in your own home as you age, it's best to start that planning early. Working with an aging in place specialist can help you look at each room in your home with fresh eyes. He or she will be able to address your specific concerns and also make suggestions for needs you might not know to anticipate.
At Fort Rock Construction, we are certified aging in place experts. We've been helping homeowners in the Eugene, Springfield and Cottage Grove area remodel their homes since 2001. Please give us a call to schedule a consultation for your home. 541-767-1611
It's fairly common these days that our older generations don't want to feel like they have to move just to accommodate their health needs. And, this is where aging-in-place experts, like Fort Rock Construction, can be of service. We help people take a fresh view of their home and then find ways to make modifications that allow for aging-in-place. But, before beginning the process of deisgn, it's important to understand the underlying health needs — of everyone — living in the household. So, before you begin your remodeling project, take this tip to heart... Bring in an occupational therapist.
An occupational therapist (OT) works with people of all ages who need specialized assistance to lead independent, productive, and satisfying lives due to physical, developmental, social, or emotional problems. He or she asks, "What' matters to you?" vs. "What's the matter with you?" By taking this approach, the OT can help guide the remodeling process to make sure the things that matter are facilitated in the design. This might include things like making certain adjustments to the height of counters and sinks, or the types of pulls found on cabinets, or even how entrys to different parts of the home are designed.
Working together, your remodeler and the OT can construct a plan to accommodate your needs for today as well as into the future, alowing you years of comfort and enjoyment in your home.
If you'd like assistance with an aging-in-place plan, please let us know. We'd love to help.
Often times, people who want to add more space to their homes don’t know whether they should add more stories to their home or do a ground floor addition. There are a few determining factors that must be considered before either project is decided upon.
Some helpful questions are: Does your neighborhood have special tenants regarding home additions? Are you willing to sacrifice some of your yard space to increase the size of your home? If you have the land and are willing to give up some yardage, a ground level addition is the most economical option. However, if this is something you’re not willing to give up and are constrained horizontally, building upwards might be the best option for you.
As with every project, each one is unique and should be handled on an individual basis. If you’re hesitant on which type of home renovation is right for you, please contact us at Fort Rock Construction and we can help you get on the right track.
As time goes by, the rooms in our homes may not fit our needs the way they once did. In the kitchen, cabinets become out of reach, appliances inaccessible, and pathways too narrow. Your kitchen’s accessibility may not be as good as it could be and right now is the perfect time to remodel to fit your lifestyle needs. If you have bending, reaching, or grabbing limitations, Fort Rock Construction can help redesign your kitchen around you.
Many times, those in wheelchairs or who are movement impaired must use external tools to grasp objects in the kitchen. This is inconvenient and unnecessary. Narrow pathways can get banged up and damaged if they don’t give you sufficient clearance. And stoves are also an issue when the controls are behind the burners causing dangerous burn and fire hazards. All of these problems and more can be fixed with a kitchen renovation.
With a kitchen that’s designed to meet your needs, you can feel more independent and functional. For example, Fort Rock Construction can lower your countertops and your cabinets while rearranging and replacing old appliances as necessary. Even something as simple as stacking the oven and microwave together or raising the dishwasher for easy loading and unloading can make life a whole lot easier.
Remodeling your kitchen shouldn’t be a stressful or daunting task; it should relieve you of the burdens in your kitchen. Please contact us to get started on your kitchen remodel – we’re here to help!
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