Remodeling Your Bathroom For Accessibility

Unless you have an unlimited supply of cash, or you figure you won’t be staying in your current home much past retirement, you will want to approach a bathroom remodel or upgrade with an eye towards what is both attractive now and functional as you grow older.

The image of an accessible bathroom as something clinical- or sterile-looking is outdated. It’s not only possible to have an appealing and charming powder room that incorporates accessibility features, it’s become easier than ever, thanks largely to the aging Baby Boomer population that has begun requesting such things.

Grab bars, head rests and other assistive technology are far less blatant and cold in appearance than they once were. And if homeowners aren’t ready to incorporate all of these elements into a current bathroom scheme, remodels can still be designed to add these elements with a minimum of fuss and disruption later.

Walk-in tubs and showers have crossed over from being viewed as “old people’s” things to being trendy and convenient for everyone. And the technology of lighting design has advanced to such an extent that bathroom illumination can be flexible, so as to allow for adjustment from recessed to bold and all degrees between, depending on individual need at the time.

There’s a potential financial bonus to bathroom design, as well. Bathroom upgrades ensure greater resale value. And if a member of your household has any type of physical challenge, and if the remodel is focused on making the space compliant with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) regulations, there is a possibility that Medicare of Medicaid will cover some of the cost if the remodel includes things like environment accessibility adaptions or assistive technology. Don’t assume these are covered, however, without checking with your doctor or local Medicare policies.

Don’t reject the idea of accessible bathroom design out of hand without first exploring the new technologies and products available to add both style and increased quality of life to one of the most important rooms in your home. For additional advice or assistance in any of your home upgrade or repair projects, call 1(800)FIX-MY-HOME or go to www.handymanmatters.com to enter your zip code and find the Handyman Matters office nearest you.

How To Make Your Kitchen Senior-Friendly

Safety concerns and the challenges of staying in our home increase as we age.  We all value our privacy and our independence, but these shouldn’t come at the expense of our health and well-being.  Of particular importance are adjustments to our kitchens, since that’s a room in which we spend a good amount of time and engage in a variety of potentially risky tasks.

The costs of a kitchen remodel can range from small to large; the following list provides some helpful ideas of senior-friendly alterations, and how involved and expensive each is likely to be.

Slip-Resistant Flooring

Falls account for a majority of injuries sustained by seniors in all areas of the house.  Remove any mats or rugs that present a tripping or slipping hazard.  A rug in front of the sink may be keeping your floor cleaner, but it’s hardly worth the risk you face of taking a serious spill.  Likewise, flooring should have enough texture to grip your feet. Consult with the clerk at your local hardware or home repair store for suggestions on the best types of slip-resistant flooring available.

Increase Lighting

Another fact of life is that as we grow older, our eyesight becomes poorer.  In the kitchen, where a lot of tasks require using knives, gripping pans, and transferring hot items, maximum lighting is essential.  This may be achieved with something as simple as increasing bulb wattage, or with something as complex as installing motion-sensor lights, or light switches that can be operated with a simple nudge.

Allow more than Adequate Clearance Space

Kitchens are particularly prone to acquiring clutter.  Look around to see what items (step stools, chairs, pet dishes) may be impeding your movements, and determine better locations for these things to “live.”

Make Appliances and Utensils Easier to Reach

One of the common laments voiced by seniors is the difficulty of reaching into both upper and lower cabinets.  Obviously, everything can’t be kept at waist level, but the most commonly used items can be made more accessible.  Place the microwave at or just below counter height.  Consider installing pull-out shelves which allow you to retrieve items without stretching or bending.

A side-opening oven door enables you to insert and remove items without having to lean across the standard lowered door, especially when the surface is hot.

Shallower sinks make it easier to rinse dishes, fruits and vegetables.  Single-lever faucets reduce the risk of scalding with hot water.

Replace smaller knobs and handles on drawers with larger, easy-to-grip ones.

When the time comes to replace an appliance, look for newer models with larger, easy-to-read controls.

If you are contemplating making changes to your kitchen—whether to make it “senior-proof” or for any other reason—the Handyman Matters craftsmen stand ready to consult and to assist in all aspects.  To find the office nearest you, call 1(866)FIX-MY-HOME, or go to www.handymanmatters.com and enter your zip code.

Home Modifications for Aging in the Comfort of your Own Home

Aging in Place

In this day and age, independent living as a senior is an achievable goal.  Similar to updating appliances as a kitchen grows older – walkways, bathrooms, and steps should also adjust to fit your age. If your current environment doesn’t match your needs, update it!  Here are some of the home modification essentials to begin aging in place.

  • Grab Bars – Secure railing isn’t just for steps, it’s for senior living.  Add a grab bar to your areas of need to stabilize a slope, help you maneuver in a cramped space, position you to be able to stand up, or provide balance in a slippery scenario.
  • Raise/Lower – Things like kitchen cabinets shouldn’t be a challenge to reach, especially when they can be lowered.  Same thing goes for seating.  Rise easily from a seating position with raised chairs and appliances.
  • Lift Chairs – Experience the first floor, the basement, the second floor and beyond by installing a lift chair in your stairway.  These motorized chairs can securely transport you to all areas of your home so that you don’t have to sacrifice space for mobility.
  • Standing Tub – The idea of a bath to someone with limited mobility may seem impossible – but it’s not!  Standing tubs are a wonderful addition to any bathroom as they allow you to stay upright while still being able to be submerged in water.
  • Widening Doorways – Senior living can often mean living with a walking aid.  Maybe it’s not you but instead your friend who travels by wheels.  Entertain with ease by making sure everyone can navigate through the doorway by wheelchair, walker, or otherwise.
  • Installing Ramps – Steps into and out of your home can be the scariest part of independent living.  Give yourself some relief by replacing steps with a gradual ramp.

Let your home remain your home by adjusting it to fit your age.  Handyman Matters has craftsmen skilled in the area of aging in place, and who can update your home in a tasteful, effective manner. Senior home modifications can improve safety, quality of life, and even increase the value of your home.  Call us today for a free estimate at 866-FIX-MY-HOME.

 

Senior Safety Fixes for the Home

Are your elderly parents still safe living at home? Even though they may be mentally sharp, their reaction times and physical abilities are most likely deteriorating over time.  If you are concerned about the safety of your parents in their current home, rest assured that there are relatively inexpensive measures you can take to keep them safe and independent for years to come.

As might be expected, elderly people want to stay independent for as long as they can. The last thing they want to feel like is a burden on their families. But according to the National Safety Council, falls are the leading cause of injury death among people 65 and older. Removing potential hazards in your parent’s home will not only give you and them peace of mind, but it will also save money if the alternative is placing them in assisted living.

The bathroom

The bathroom is one of the more hazardous places in the house. More accidents occur there for people of all ages than in the rest of the house. It is especially important to keep the bathroom safe for our elderly parents. Thankfully this can be done without a large expense.

Grab bars should be installed where ever support is needed. When proper support is not available, the elderly will use towel bars or the toilet paper holder, appliances not suitable for such use. Instead, grab bars should be securely placed both inside and outside the bathtub and within reach of the toilet.

As parents age they will find it increasingly difficult to stand up from a low toilet. If replacing the toilet with a higher model is not an option, then replacing the current seat with an elevated one complete with armrests will help them considerably.  Another solution is to attach stand-alone armrests that attach to the floor and wall. These are very stable and won’t wobble as some toilet seat models tend to do. Bath and shower safety devices can be purchased at most home improvement stores or online.

If the bathtub has shower doors, removing these and replacing them with a shower curtain will allow more space to enter and exit the tub. It is also helpful to use non-slip mats or tape in the tub along with non-slip rugs. Additionally, replace the faucet handles with knobs for those with levers. Also place a nightlight in the bathroom.  For added safety, make sure the bathroom doors open out. If your loved one were to collapse against the closed door inside the bathroom, then you or rescue personnel would have a hard time getting to them.

The rest of the house

Make sure the water heater temperature is adjusted to prevent accidental scalding. Replace the home thermostat with a backlit model with a large display. Remove raised thresholds in doorways. Put extra lighting switches in areas where they would be beneficial. The addition of extra outlets may be necessary if power cords on the floor are a tripping hazard.  Replace doorknobs with levers.

In the kitchen, replace cabinet hardware if your parent has trouble grabbing them. The same should be done for kitchen faucets. Make sure the kitchen and rest of the house are free of plumbing leaks. Not only can these pose a serious slip hazard, but they may breed mold in the crawlspace or basement.

If you’re looking to add some additional senior safety to your home, enter your zip code above to find your local Handyman Matters location or call 866-FIX-MY-HOME.  

Frank Nielson is a retired medical researcher who now spends his days writing and attempting to tie the perfect fly. Through this writing, he is keen on helping consumers find the best medical supplies at an affordable price.

 

Steps to Reduce Bathroom Injuries

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that about 235,000 people go to emergency rooms each year with injuries sustained in bathrooms. Such mishaps increase with age, and accidents related to falls getting in and out of the bathtub are particularly hazardous and frequently fatal for seniors. Most of these catastrophes are easily avoidable.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that about 235,000 people go to emergency rooms each year with injuries sustained in bathrooms.  Such mishaps increase with age, and accidents related to falls getting in and out of the bathtub are particularly hazardous and frequently fatal for seniors.  Most of these catastrophes are easily avoidable.

Advances in design and technology have brought all kinds of new products to the market, including curbless showers (removing the “stumble” factor), taller toilets and lighting that is layered in such a way as to prevent glare.

Tubs with water-sealant doors are readily available.  Grab bars no longer have to look institutional, but are more easily incorporated into a bathroom’s design and serve additional functions such as soap and shampoo holders.  Flip-up shower seats and hand-held shower heads have been around for decades, and are more functional and user-friendly now than ever.

Motion sensors on lighting and dimmer switches allow for handier access.  Adequate lighting becomes increasingly important as we age:  By 40, the average person begins to notice diminution in vision, and by age 60, we need three times as much light to see as effectively as we did when we were in our 20s.

Other new design features that increase safety and decrease the opportunity for mishaps include no-touch faucets, lever handles to replace doorknobs, drawers that can be opened with a nudge, and counters with knee space beneath, allowing for sitting and wheelchair access.

Lowering storage space to the point of use (shelves at waist-level, for example) is another improvement in bathroom safety design.  Features like these reduce hazards substantially and can allow people to remain living independently in their homes for a considerably longer period of time than they might be able to do otherwise.

For more tips on safety-proofing your bathroom or for assistance in remodeling, contact Handyman Matters at 1-800-FIX-MY-HOME or enter your zip code above to find a location near you.

5 Tips For Preparing Your Home For Aging In Place

While most people notice the change in themselves as they age, many neglect to notice the changes that are needed in their home to keep their homes age appropriate. There are many things that you can do to increase safety and make sure that your home fits the ever-increasing needs in your life. Handyman Matters has put together these 5 benefits for aging in your home.

While most people notice the change in themselves as they age, many neglect to notice the changes that are needed in their home to keep it age appropriate. There are many things that you can do to increase safety and make sure that your home fits the ever-increasing needs in your life. Handyman Matters has put together these 5 tips for preparing your home for aging in place.

1. Reduces the Number of Slips and Falls

Slips and falls are the biggest problem that aging adults face in their home. Whether it’s a slippery hallway or poorly lighted rooms, adding handrails can drastically decrease falls in the home, grab bars and re-arranging furniture in the bedroom, bathroom, hallways and kitchen.

2. Navigation is Simplified

Oftentimes our homes aren’t laid out in a manner that’s easy for walking and navigating. There may be pieces of furniture that jut out into the hallway and make it hard to maneuver around. In addition, a slippery rug in a hallway can create a dangerous surface. By modifying the layout of furniture and different rooms, it’s easy to create an environment that’s easier to negotiate – especially if assistance with a cane, walker or wheelchair is necessary.

3. Cooking Becomes Safer and More Accessible

As we age, we become more susceptible to arthritis, and our grip becomes less effective. This can be overcome by switching door and cabinet handles with models that are easier to grasp, as well as replacing utensils, pots and pans with ones that have larger and more ergonomic shaped handles.

4. Drastically Increases Independence

Installing handrails and bars in bathrooms, installing automatic lights and other home modifications can increase a person’s independence for a longer amount of time. These types of modifications help keep seniors safe and independent while giving them the ability to go about their daily activities.

5. Maintains a Current Standard of Living

One of the biggest fears of most people as they age is a fear of having to leave their home. However, this can be delayed if a home is properly set up and modified to make it easier for aging adults to continue to live their lives.

Handyman Matters offers aging in place services to help you remain independent and safe in your home. By implementing universal design elements in bathrooms, kitchens and through the house, we can help you transform your home into a living space that functions efficiently for all ages and conditions. Let us perform our free 50-point assessment on your home to uncover risks you might be facing. Call us today at 1-866-FIX-MY-HOME or enter your zip code above to find a location in your area.

 

4 Living Room Modifications for Aging Adults

When most people think about accidents that occur with aging, they imagine tripping in a store or falling on a slick sidewalk outside, but according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention a surprising 60% of falls happen at home. Since homes can be a veritable minefield of accidents, home modifications should be made as you age to lower the likelihood of trips and falls and to make your home safer overall.

There are many products out on the market that can make your home safer for an aging adult, such as bathroom bars, motion sensor lighting, and rubber grips to help keep rugs and carpeting in place. But a surprising number of accidents can be avoided through simply arranging the furniture and layout in your home. Here are four quick living room modifications that will make your home safer for elderly friends and family.

1. Re-arrange furniture to allow for a 4-foot diameter for walking spaces. A 4-foot wide walking area will ensure that there’s no bumping into anything and allows plenty of space for the use of a cane or walker.

2. Make sure there are no sharp edges around walking spaces. Sharp edges can be an even bigger danger for someone if they fall, so make sure that furniture is arranged in such a way that sharp corners and edges are flush against the wall or at least out of any walking paths in the room.

3. Move light switches and thermostats for easy reaching. Thermostats, lights, and other types of switches can sometimes be attached too high to a wall. Make sure that they’re easily reachable so that no standing on a chair or a stool is necessary to make an adjustment.

4. Add lighting or railings to areas around stairs and sunken living spaces. Homes that have multi-levels and use a few stairs to reach the living areas can be a hazard for the elderly. Adding bright overhead lighting or additional railings in those areas can decrease the possibility of a fall.

Handyman Matters offers aging in place services to help you and your loved ones remain independent and safe at home. By implementing universal design elements in bathrooms, kitchens and through the house, we can help you transform your home into a living space that functions efficiently for all ages and conditions. Let us perform our 50 point assessment on your home to uncover risks you might be facing. Call Handyman Matters today at 1-866-FIX-MY-HOME or enter your zip code above to find a location in your area.

 

 

 

5 Senior Safety Enhancing Features for your Home

With many Boomers entering retirement age, it’s never been more important to add safety features for seniors into your home – especially since many seniors are opting to stay put in their houses, rather than moving to an assisted care facility. To make sure your loved ones are safe at home, consider adding these 5 safety enhancing features.

1. Hand Rails

Hand rails are generally installed on stairs and in longer hallways to assist with mobility and to reduce the chance of a fall. These types of safety measures are generally quick and inexpensive to install.

2. Wheelchair Ramps

Wheelchair ramps are helpful for homes that have stairs leading to the front door or have smaller levels within the home – usually a sunken living room or a few stairs that lead to the kitchen or another room in the house. Adding a wheelchair ramp adds mobility and allows a person to move around to different rooms more freely while decreasing the risk of an accident.

3. Motion Detector Lighting

Lighting beside the bed and in rooms that aren’t frequently utilized can often cause problems when light switches aren’t directly inside the room. Motion detector lighting simplifies that process by having lights turn on automatically when motion in a room is detected.

4. Bathroom Grab Bars

Bathrooms can quickly turn into a safety issue because of the fact that water can be slippery, as can showers and bathtubs. Many people will install rubber bath mats to help with stability, but bathroom grab bars are also helpful in reducing falls.

5. Non-skid Flooring

Wooden floors as well as linoleum and tile floors in kitchens can become very slippery – especially after being cleaned or polished. Non-skid flooring decreases the likelihood of a fall by making floors more traction friendly with either non-skid tile or a slip-resistant matte finish for existing floors.

At Handyman Matters, we know safety is the utmost importance for your family. That’s why we’ll even provide a complimentary home safety inspection to alert you to any potential safety issues and solutions on how to remedy them. Call us today to set up an appointment or a consultation at 1-866-FIX-MY-HOME or enter your zip code above to find a location near you!

 

Aging in Place with Style and Grace

Aging in place – updating one’s home to accommodate changing needs and abilities as one ages – doesn’t have to mean sacrificing a home’s style and decor. From attractive lighting designed to work well for aging eyes to barrier-free shower stalls that compete in beauty and practicality with what you might find in a luxury community for those 55 and older, plenty of home modifications now make it possible to age in place gracefully and stylishly.

It’s no longer necessary to give up your home’s good looks for a more institutional-looking appearance just to achieve a safer, more usable house; you can age in place and retain the style that makes living in your home comfortable and safe, and maintain your independence at the same time. With more than 78 million baby boomers growing older in the United States, aging in place – and how to do it well – is a hot topic for many homeowners. If you’re planning ahead or thinking it’s now time to update your home to accommodate changing needs, Handyman Matters has a few things for you to keep in mind:

Kitchens and baths are commonly the most challenging rooms in the house for people, like many seniors, with mobility issues. Updating these rooms can go a long way toward helping you stay in and enjoy your own home for as long as possible. Bathrooms, in particular, pose safety issues because falls are one of the leading reasons seniors must go into nursing homes.

When renovating your bathroom, focus on the important elements, including low-level entryways, accessible grab bars, easy grip faucets and showers with safety screens. Other elements include safer, slip-resistant flooring; brighter, more flexible lighting; and safe access to the shower or bathtub. Handyman Matters professional craftsmen can prepare your home for the changing needs of the future.

Stepping in and out of a tub or shower is one of the riskiest times for people with mobility challenges. Appropriately placed grab bars – now available in designer colors and textures – can help improve safety in these high-risk areas. Another option that’s high on safety and style is to replace a current shower or tub with a walk-in shower. The walk-in showers are a good option for wheelchair users or in rooms where a full-size tub is not practical. Have these items installed properly by the professionals at Handyman Matters.

That tile floor that you adored in your 40s can be a slip hazard when you reach your 70s. In fact, any hard bathroom floor surface such as linoleum, vinyl or tile can put you at increased risk of slipping and falling. Carpeting might be a better option, one that is slip resistant and warmer and softer on the feet. Many manufacturers now offer materials that are attractive and able to repel moisture. If installing carpeting isn’t practical for you, use area rugs with sticky backing to help ensure safe footing in high traffic areas, like in front of the commode, sink and bathtub.

Aging eyes not only need more light to see, they need better quality light, especially at night. Avoid dim lighting; older eyes need several times more light than younger eyes to see well. Increase the amount of light in your bathroom and consider using naturally brighter bulbs like compact fluorescent bulbs, which are also energy-efficient.

Be aware of glare, as well. Bright lights bouncing off all-white bathroom surfaces can create glare that makes it difficult to see and navigate for older people, especially at night when they may not be fully awake. If your bath is all white, Handyman Matters can paint the walls a light color in a finish that will help reduce glare. Use area rugs on white floors to help break up the expanse of white and reduce glare.

Boomers aging in place will find more options than ever before to do so with style, but safety should be your first concern – that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy good style and beautiful design as well. Take it from the professionals and let Handyman Matters prepare your home for you to age in gracefully and with good style.

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Ten Simple Ways To Make Your Home Safe For Every Generation Who Lives In It

Most of us start life depending on our parents to take care of us. But as they age, chances are the roles will reverse. And, whether you provide additional help in their own homes – or move aging parents into your home – how do you prepare to meet the new needs of aging adults? Luckily many simple, quick, affordable – and even stylish and savvy – updates can  make homes safer and more enjoyable for you, your family and your parents. Here are some tips from Handyman Matters:

De-clutter: Both kids and older adults have reduced reflexes and balance. Spruce up the look of your home – and avoid tripping hazards – by removing clutter and items you no longer use (especially obstacles in walkways).

safe shower for seniorsSafe shower: Showers can be an enjoyable and luxurious part of anyone’s day – if they are safe. While you probably don’t want to renovate the shower, simple additions of bath safety products can make it safer and more enjoyable. Start by adding rubber grips to the bottom of the shower to avoid slick surfaces. Next, take a seat with a comfortable shower chair and enjoy a shower massage with a multi-function hand held shower head. You might also want to consider adding some grab bars around the shower to ensure entry and exit from the shower are safe.

Save resources, save money: Eco-friendly adjustments not only can make you feel good about preserving natural resources for your family, they can also help lower energy costs (ideal for tight budgets). Simple steps can include replacing standard light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, insulating doors and windows and swapping faucets and shower heads with new water-saving models.

Handy handles: In the course of a day, you grip many objects – from cups and pens, to door knobs and faucet handles. Swapping out door knobs or faucets with knobs for lever-handle models can make these everyday tasks a bit easier – especially for smaller or arthritic hands.

Get a grip: For any age, stairs are a falling hazard in homes – whether it’s one step or 20. To increase safety, add hand rails or decorative hand grips in high-traffic doorways where there may be a step, such as the garage or front entry.

Let there be light: Did you also know that by age 60 the average person requires 15 times more lighting than when they were 10 years old? Brighten up the home with additional reading lamps in bedrooms and family rooms, under-cabinet task lighting in the kitchen, motion-sensor lights near entrances and night lights in hallways.

Safe and secure: Your home is your safe haven … so make sure it is protected. In the bathroom where slick surfaces can be falling hazards, add functional – yet fashionable – grab bars. And, in case of unforeseen falls or other home accidents, home security systems can give you peace of mind to know that fire-, medical- or emergency-response is available for you and your loved ones at the touch of a button.

Flat flooring: According to the Home Safety Council, falls are the leading cause (66 percent) of all nonfatal home injuries. To help you – or your loved ones – avoid becoming a statistic, remove throw rugs or ensure that they have a non-slip backing to provide more firm footing.

Low-maintenance lawns: With busy lifestyles, it’s tough to keep up landscaping. Making a few modifications to the yard can help ease the burden. Replace large grassy areas that require frequent mowing with rock gardens or mulch beds. Additionally, choose drought-resistant perennial plants and shrubs to save time and money on watering – and ensure you don’t have to plant new each spring.

Be prepared: Are the washer and dryer in the basement? Are the bedroom and bathroom upstairs? Since stairs can be difficult to navigate for children or aging parents, having all the necessities on one floor is ideal. While it may not be in the budget to move everything to the main floor now, gradually start getting ready by wiring a closet or small room for the laundry – or planning to expand a half bath to a full bath.

With a few minor updates, you can breathe easier knowing your home is safer for your loved ones – both young and old. For more information on safety products and other helpful tips or assistance in  “safe-proofing” your home, contact your local Handyman Matters location today. Click here to find a location near you or call 866-FIX-MY-HOME (866-349-6946).