Is your home well equipped to accommodate your needs as you retire and age? Is it a place that’s safe, comfortable and easy to get around? What changes might you consider now and in the future that will allow you to remain in your home – happy and healthy – for as long as possible?
I recently sat in on a great webinar led by the co-founders of Capozzi Design Group, a full service design firm based in Ohio that specializes in home remodels for older adults. Anne & Kevin Capozzi stepped through three distinct levels of “Living in Place” – i.e. three different levels of remodels based on both the short and longer-term needs of homeowners.
I found it helpful in terms of framing and prioritizing all the possible changes and improvements I’m currently considering for my own home. These levels include:
Level 1: Hidden Helpers. The focus here is on comfort and convenience and making easy (and often inexpensive) changes to a home that can make a real difference.
Level 2: Easy Access. The focus here is on comfort and safety and making more substantive changes to a home that minimizes the risk of accidents.
Level 3. Aging in Place. The focus here is on accessibility and making changes to a home (often significant) that can best accommodate the needs of homeowners as mobility declines
While Anne and Kevin specialize in higher end solutions for helping older adults to "live in place, I've taken the liberty of exploring the range of product options that might be found at mass retailers like Amazon.
Level 1: Hidden Helpers
Hidden Helpers refer to items that don't require significant remodels or construction – i.e. reasonably priced accessories and elements that help improve visibility within the home, minimize the risk of falling, and help address issues related to mobility and dexterity.
Generally speaking this includes the addition of more lighting elements (e.g. nightlights) and stability elements (e.g. dual handrails).
In the kitchen, this includes items like task-specific lighting, lever handles, touch-less faucets, cabinetry drawers and open shelving.
In the bathroom, this includes adjustable shower heads, anti-scalding temperature controls, comfort height toilets, and non-slip flooring.
Level 2: Easy Access
Level 2 modifications are more about making changes that lead to greater safety and “peace of mind." Most of the suggested changes here are aimed at significantly reducing the risk of falling in the home, the number one cause of hospital visits for older adults. These changes often require professional help with installation and/or minor construction.
Below are examples of some of the "Level 2" items mentioned during the presentation. They range from grab bars to easy-access cabinets to shower seats to walk-in tubs to cabinet lighting and more.
Level 3: Aging in Place
"Aging in Place" modifications are all about accessibility – that is, making changes to the home that will allow older adults who may be more physically challenged to remain independent in their homes as long as possible.
Remodeling homes to accommodate accessibility challenges is likely to require significant construction as well as the purchase of appliances and accessories that may be costly. In other words, it's never too early to start assessing, budgeting and making plans.
For wheelchair-friendly bathrooms, this includes the design and construction of:
• No-threshhold showers with easy-
to-access controls and shelving
• Hanging sinks with easy-to-access countertops and faucet controls
For wheelchair-friendly kitchens, this includes the design and construction of:
Wheelchair accessible cooktops and counter heights
Pull down cabinets and convenience shelving
Raised dishwashers & appliances
If you're like me, stuck at home and "sheltering in place," take advantage of the opportunity to take a closer look at your residence. Assess your needs and start planning. What Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 changes might you want to make? When might you want to make them? How much of an investment is likely to be required so that you can live fully and joyfully in your home as you age?
And, if you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out to design professionals like Anne and Kevin at Capozzi Design who have extensive experience and expertise in "living in place!"
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. Please feel free to share if you have any thoughts or recommendations on this topic!