As published in the Savannah Morning News - 10 March 2013
Finding the Perfect “Last” Home
Whether you are looking for a vacation home that will become your retirement dream come true, or you want to downsize to simplify your life, or you have a large family that wants to visit all at the same time, there are things to consider when choosing your “last” home.
Last week we began to discuss certain structural qualities to look for when buying a last home. A home where you can age-in-place should include wide doorways, clear space for wheelchair mobility, barrier free entrances, with provisions that can be made for features to be adapted as needed. Ideally, these changes should be able to be made quickly and easily. For example, bathroom walls may be designed with additional supports for the future installation of grab bars. Cabinets under sinks can be designed to be removable whereby the storage space under the sinks can be utilized for knee space should a wheelchair become necessary.
Essential features to look for are a zero-step entrance, accessible hallways, and bathrooms with doors wide enough for a wheelchair user to enter. Such features can help you adapt should your needs change due to a disability or reduced mobility.
What you want to avoid is becoming trapped in your home or locked out because of a disability that prevents you from being able to physically access your home. Assistive technology, such as environmental control units that allow a person with a disability to turn on and off lights, answer the telephone, and open the door can increase independence. Home modifications, such as ramped porches and bathrooms equipped with grab bars and bath chairs can provide for safety and independence as your needs change.
What we are essentially talking about is Universal Design:
"Universal Design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design." (Center for Universal Design, North Carolina State University).
There are published guidelines, which can provide you with standard dimensions and features such as door widths, clear space for wheelchair mobility, countertop heights for sinks and kitchens, audible and visual signals, grab bars, switch and outlet height, and more. There are also builders and architects that specialize in Universal Design and aging in place. Many times, an existing home or your vacation home can be modified to accommodate aging in place solutions. Within our network, we can put you in touch with all the right people to make sure your last home is the right choice for your future.
For the next few weeks in Moving Mom…Choosing the Right Active Community! For those looking for fun, action and sports, we’ll cover what to look for, and what Savannah has to offer…Stay tuned!