Designer shares thoughtful design for aging families without compromising aesthetics

Designer shares thoughtful design for aging families without compromising aesthetics

Most people enjoy having something unique about their home, and we are finding a greater need for healthier homes with thoughtful design without compromising aesthetics.

We are all aging, and the baby boomers are retiring at an astonishing rate. Aside from the boomers, many families have needs outside of just age for added safety features embedded in design. Adam Gibson, Architectural Designer, showcases some features that could help.

Here’s more: (As told by Adam)

We live with numerous devices that assist our lives, and many are no longer considered unusual, like glasses or hearing aids that address safety, not merely convenience. Some spouses consider hearing aids an inconvenience, and some folks wear glasses as a fashion statement. We’re not talking about those people.

Specific safety-related concerns in your home could be remedied by adding a lever-style door handle. A healthy adult with slippery hands grabs the handle and almost falls. If it’s an elderly or special person, subtract the “almost.” This could be prevented with a door lever with a return. Levers are better than doorknobs for those with trouble gripping.

Grandpa visits. He falls in the bathroom against the door. You can’t get to him because the door opens into the room, so you have to call paramedics to get him out and hope that they get there in time. Having a door that swings outward, you’d have saved time by providing immediate access. And shower doors must always open out.

You are remodeling, and you don’t want to have a wide, wheelchair accessible door, but who knows? You may need one someday. Have your contractor over-frame for a larger door, but infill it and install a standard-sized door. Should the need arise, in a matter of hours a wheelchair-width door could be installed.

Again, you are remodeling or building. You want to stay in your home for many years. Why not stack closets above one another for a future elevator?

How many of you have had your children accidentally pull a towel bar out of the wall? Or an adult slips? We grab the closest thing to steady ourselves. Grab bars can be beautiful, not like the ones we see in public restrooms. Why not have every towel bar serve as a grab bar? (They must be properly installed.)

Many door manufacturers now offer exterior doors with flush thresholds so people with a walker or wheelchair can enter without stumbling. It’s the same with showers. A curbless, or what I call a “beach entry” used to be thought of as a luxury, but now it’s common and quite practical. There is rarely a reason to step over something to enter a shower. In this shower design, we also incorporated a horizon line about five feet above the floor. Contrasting tile colors is proven to help people with vertigo by giving them a horizon line.

Here’s another image with a more traditional horizon line.

Here’s a safety concern that’s also a pet peeve. Why place a microwave above a cooktop if you don’t have to? First of all, there is never enough ventilation for healthy air with this configuration but more importantly, when you have a vertically challenged person or a child removing boiling liquid above shoulder level and above a hot element, it’s an accident waiting to happen.

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