Remodel Considerations for Live-in Aging Parents
Universal Design and Accessibility Construction
By Marion Somers, PhD
Many families with aging parents move their elder loved ones into their home once they those loved ones reach a certain age. Usually, the family wants their elder to move in for all of the right reasons. However, families often do not think about the costs of remodel construction for Universal Design and accessibility. They also may not grasp how they will be inconvenienced while the work is being done. The entire family's needs and routines must be addressed before you move forward. Many construction projects are delayed and/or go over budgeted costs, so that can heighten tensions, too.
If you are going to make significant structural changes to your home, you also need to be aware of the rules governing each of these environments. There are usually specific construction permits and guidelines to follow, or specific contractors you need to hire. It's better to gain all of the necessary details and approvals, rather than to have to rip out the new construction and start all over again.
One case in point: After doing due diligence, we made substantial changes to my client's daughter's home since her father was a wheelchair-confined paraplegic. We lowered the kitchen cabinets, changed the doorknobs so they were easier to turn, and then removed many of the doors. We also widened the doorways, put tilted mirrors in the bathroom and bedroom, and installed environmental control units so he could activate various controls from his wheelchair or by clapping his hands. He lived in his daughter's home for several years, and when he needed to go to the hospital for his last days, he expressed gratitude for all those years of independence.
A version of this blog appeared on Dr. Marion's Web Site.
Published August 15, 2012