Posted on

Home for the Holidays – an Aging-in-Place Checklist

It’s almost Thanksgiving when many families will travel to visit their parents and grandparents. These visits, often to our childhood homes, are fun and memorable, but they can also offer a glimpse into the lives of our aging relatives. Is your childhood home safe and accessible for an aging parent?

85% of people over 65 say they would prefer to stay in their home, rather than relocate to a smaller home or an assisted living or nursing community. If your family members feel this way, it is important to assess whether any changes or adaptations will be required to make their home safe for them to live independently in.

So while you spend time with your loved ones this holiday season, use this checklist to evaluate the safety and accessibility of your parent or grandparent’s home.

Stairways & Multi-level Homes

Does your loved one live in a multi-story home? Stairs increase the chances of falling and are difficult to navigate as you get older. And what about if your parents need to use a walker or wheelchair? Ideally you want everything they need to be on one level. This includes the kitchen, their bedroom & an accessible full bath.

Lighting & Windows

Is the home well lit? Are light switches easy to reach at all entrances to the rooms? Remember that your loved one may be have a hard time seeing in low light. If there is no overhead light in a room, an easy solution would be to set up a switch to operate any lamps that can be turned on from the entrance to the room. Do not overlook lighting in places like pantries, stairways, garages, and closets either. You also want plenty of windows that are easy to operate but also lock for safety. Consider adding nightlights where possible as well.

Non-Slip Flooring

Pay close attention to any tile and hardwood floors to make sure they are not slippery, both wet and dry. Secure or remove area rugs to reduce the chance your loved one may trip over them.

Layout and Hallways

Think about the open spaces in your loved one’s home. Are the hallways wide enough for a wheelchair? Do the rooms have enough room to maneuver through with a wheelchair or walker (a 60″ diameter space is considered suitable)? How is the flow of traffic through the home? Consider rearranging furniture to open the space up and remove tripping hazards and shorten travel distances.

Grab Bars and Railings

Installing grab bars in the bath by the toilet and shower and railings on any stairways should be a priority to help prevent falls. Grab Bars provide support and stability and will allow your loved one to maintain their independence and privacy.

VIM Products Inc Level Entry Shower System Gallery Curbless Universal Design, Photo Courtesy of Thayer Custom Homes. 919-277-0267
Photo Courtesy of Thayer Custom Homes

Level Entry Shower

Many bathroom falls occur when a person is stepping in or out of the shower or tub. Stepping over the barrier, whether that be a tub wall or curb, can compromise their balance, and in those situations, even a grab bar may not be enough to keep them from falling. The safest option is to remove the curb or tub entirely.

We recommend a level entry shower with 4-way slope to a center drain as it provides optimal stability for bathers, particularly if they use a wheel chair or other other mobility aids. A person’s ability to bathe independently is crucial to their physical health and emotional well-being. Accessible showering and bathing options can improve the quality of life and health your aging-in-place relative.

Care & Maintenance of the Home

One of the most overlooked aspects of aging-in-place is the day to day maintenance of the home. Evaluate details such as yard care, access to electrical breakers, plumbing, cleaning & dusting, taking out the garbage, pet care, laundry, etc… If your loved one is struggling with any of these areas, you may need to consider hiring regular help with housekeeping and home maintenance.

Support & Community Amenities

Is your loved one’s community conducive to their aging-in-place? Consider things like distance and ease of access to doctors/hospitals, grocery stores, and transportation. Don’t forget entertainment and fellowship either! Do you know their neighbors? Exchange phone numbers and introduce yourselves and your loved one (if they haven’t already met). Having someone next door or across the street who can keep an eye out for your loved one is a great idea!

Aging-in-Place Remodels – Where to begin?

How did your parent’s or grandparent’s home perform as you went through this checklist? Do you have some changes to make? Aging-in-place renovations can feel overwhelming. Remodels do take time and investment, but the best thing to do is handle it before it is an urgent problem. The costliest renovations are the ones you have to do in a hurry.

A good place to start is the bathroom. The majority of senior falls happen in the bathroom or on stairs. The Level Entry Shower System™ creates accessible, curbless shower floors and can be used in bathrooms of all sizes. Accessorize with shower seats and stability accessories such as grab bars, soap dishes, towel bars, etc… Best of all, it can be installed without changing the structural design of your home, making it the perfect choice for remodels and retrofits.

Planning an aging-in-place remodel? Check out the Level Entry Shower System™ today!

Posted on

Stylish, Accessible Master Bath Remodel in Greenville, NC

Stylish Accessible Master Bath Remodel in Greenville, NC featuring the VIM Level Entry Shower System -

An accessible master bath that does not sacrifice style!

This accessible master bath was dramatically redesigned to increase safety and accessibility for a family member with a prosthetic leg. The result was both gorgeous and practical.  The Level Entry Shower System was a perfect fit for their needs. The family wanted to reduce slipping and tripping hazards in their shower. Addding grab bars and improving the accessibility of the tub were also key improvements they wanted to make.

They had some spatial constraints as well. They were unable to move the location of the shower, or increase its size by much.  The flexibility of the VIM Level Entry Shower System allowed them to create a true curbless shower in a relatively small alcove space. Their tub was also customized with grab bars and under-mounted in Quartzite. This made it easier to sit comfortably on the edge of the tub allowing for easier entrance and exit from the tub.

The design elements were also very important to the family. Even their daughter got involved in the selection of fixtures, finishes, and colors! Their interior designer, Nancy Bolen of Salem, NC brought their whole vision together seamlessly! Their plumbing fixtures were supplied by Splash Galleries in Raleigh, NC.

What we love about this accessible master bath remodel is that through quality design and carefully selected materials and fixtures, they created a safer bathing space for their family that is also a stylish highlight of their home’s design!

This project features the 60 x 48 VIM Level Entry Shower System Kit & the Folding Shower Seat.

Here are all the talented professionals and products that made this remodel possible:

Contractor:  C. A. Corey Construction LLC   | Designer: Nancy Bolen Interior Designs | Tub & Plumbing Fixtures, & Accesssories: Splash Galleries | Lighting: Slide Bath Vanity Light – LightologySoho dweLed Wall Sconce – Ylighting |Counters: Quartzite from Francini Inc. | Floor Tile – Energie Ker 6″x 24″ in Chalk | Shower Tile – Byrd Tile, Flat Pebble in Figi Cream | Wall Tile – American Olean Tile 4″x 8″ in Matte Designer White

Photos Courtesy of Charlene Peden.

Want us to feature your projects created with the VIM Level Entry Shower System? Submit your project today!

Posted on

Design Ideas for a Multi-Generational Home

VIM Products Blog - Design Ideas for a Multi-Generational Home - Using universal design principles to create a home suited to aging in place and multiple life stages.

Design for a multi-generational home has become an important topic among designers, architects, builders, and homeowners in recent years.  More seniors are deciding to stay in their homes or move in with their younger family members. This shift combined with the growth of the over 65+ population is contributing to the rising interest in Universal Design, aging in place, and designing homes with multiple generations in mind.

With baby boomers aging, the U.S. population of people 65 or older is expected to burgeon from 39.6 million in 2009 to about 72.1 million in 2030, according to federal Administration on Aging data. Thus, more families are looking to provide space in their homes for an elderly relative. – Washington Post

Grandparents, adult children, and grandchildren are increasingly choosing to move back in with each other. Having three or more generations living under one roof is becoming the practical choice for many families.  Grandparents can assist with childcare for working parents while also enjoying the safety and security that living alone simply would not afford them. The baby boomer generation also prefers to retain a high level of freedom that they just don’t get from assisted living and nursing facilities. Being close to loved ones in a home that is built with multiple generations in mind can allow for a more fulfilled lifestyle that is more in line with the values of the boomer generation.

Americans living in multi-generational family households has continued to rise in recent years, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center… In 2014, a record 60.6 million people, or 19% of the U.S. population, lived in a multi-generational household, up from 42.4 million (17%) in 2009 and 27.5 million (12%) in 1980. – Market Watch

One factor is the cost of nursing homes and assisted living, but also the cost of childcare and rising rent and mortgage costs. The average cost of a shared room in a nursing facility in 2016 was $225 a day, or $82,000 a year.  For assisted living facilities, the average per year is around $43,000. Consider then that the average that American’s pay for childcare per year is around $10,000 per child and all of sudden it makes sense that some families are choosing to co-habitate.

The principles of Universal Design that are applied in designing a multi-generation home benefit more than just seniors who want to age-in-place. These design guidelines create spaces that are safer, adaptable, durable, and beneficial to occupants of all ages and abilities. One of the key concepts in Universal Design is that accessibility is built in, not an add-on. For example, a home might be built on one level with no curbs or steps. This saves the homeowners from having to add a ramp or lift if a family member ultimately needs a wheelchair. But if you think about it in terms of families with young children, having no curbs or steps can also protect your little ones from tripping or tumbles down stairs.

The 7 Principles of Universal Design are:

  • Equitable Use
  • Flexibility in Use
  • Simple and Intuitive Use
  • Perceptible Information
  • Tolerance for Error
  • Low Physical Effort
  • Size and Space for Approach and Use

These principles are a great place to start when designing a new home or planning a renovation to accommodate multiple generations or abilities. With these principles in mind, here are some design ideas to consider in your multi-generational home.

Many architects say they see their clients asking to redesign a home to accommodate an elderly parent, or a family visiting for the holidays. “I see it now more than 10 years ago,” said Dawn Zuber, an architect in Plymouth, Mich. – Market Watch

VIM Products Inc Level Entry Shower System Gallery Curbless Universal Design, Photo Courtesy of Thayer Custom Homes. 919-277-0267
VIM Level Entry Shower System – Photo Courtesy of Thayer Custom Homes

Level Entry Showers

Many trips, slips and falls can happen in the bathroom, particularly the shower. Level Entry Showers remove the curb and feature gradual sloping to a center drain, removing a tripping hazard while also making the shower accessible to people of all abilities. A Level Entry Shower helps accomplish 3 of the 7 Universal Design Principles. Equitable Use by making the shower accessible to all people including those in need of wheelchairs and walkers. Tolerance for Error by reducing the risk of falls from tripping and reduce slipping hazards from proper drainage and slope. Size and Space for Approach and Use in that a Level Entry Shower can open up the space and allow for easy access to the shower.

Easy to Reach Cabinets

Apply this idea to any room with storage. If cabinets or shelves are too high, too deep, or too low, they are potentially not accessible to all the residents of your home. Cabinets and shelves should be easily reached by a person of average height without the use of a step ladder or stool. For elderly or If a deep cabinet is not being replaced, use a Lazy Susan to provide easier access to items in the back and better utilize the space. Make sure you cabinet handles are easy to grasp or pull and that hinges and slides operate smoothly.  These suggestions are informed by a few of the principles: Equitable Use, Flexibility in Use, and Low Physical Effort.

VIM Products Inc Level Entry Shower System Gallery Curbless Universal Design, Photo Courtesy of SRE. 919-277-0267
Photo Courtesy of SRE

Grab Bars & Stability Aids

Grab Bars do not have to be ugly, commercial stainless steel in order to be effective. Invest in some stylish, coordinating Grab Bars and other integrated stability aids to improve safety, particularly in wet areas like the bathroom. Also consider dual hand rails on any staircase so they may be grabbed no matter which hand is free. Keep in mind that you can add stability aids in unexpected, but helpful places such as a toilet paper holder with an integrated grab bar.  Stability aids are helpful no matter your age or ability. By equipping your home with integrated stability aids you are fulfilling the Equitable Use and Tolerance for Error standards.

Open Floor Plans

A design trend that is taking hold in New Construction is also a key element of Universal Design. By opening up our living spaces, they are also optimized for flexible use throughout our lives. Wide passageways & doors benefit all people, whether you are moving in a large piece of furniture or navigating your home in a wheelchair. Open floor plans take it a step further by eliminating doors and hallways all together. Rearrange your spaces as needed to accommodate any special needs that may arise, whether that is a new child, a new home office, or a elderly parent with limited mobility. In addition to incorporating an open floor plan, consider using wide door frames or pocket doors when possible to improve mobility through your home. Like the Level Entry Showers, this fulfills the Size and Space for Approach and Use principle of Universal Design.

Applying these Design Ideas in your Multi-Generational Home

We hope these suggestions help you design a functional and welcoming multi-generational home for you and your loved ones. Maybe you are not in a place to completely renovate at this time. Make a list of priority renovations to start with.

One third of all falls in the elderly population involve hazards at home. Factors include: poor lighting, loose carpets and lack of safety equipment. – Aging Care

A good place to begin is the bathrooms where falls can be additionally dangerous due to wet conditions and hard surfaces.  A Level Entry Shower System can make a huge difference in the safety and accessibility of a bathroom. Consider adding fold away shower seating and stability accessories for added safety and convenience.

Optimizing your home for multi-generational living can be one of the most rewarding investments you will make in your future. Not only are you setting yourself up to live comfortably for years to come in your family home, you are also prepared for any unforeseen circumstances such as temporary disability, new children, or a elderly parent coming to live with you. The savings can be huge, but the memories you will have in your home and peace of mind you will have are priceless.

VIM Products, Inc. is the maker of The Level Entry Shower System™ and ADA approved Bath Seats and Accessories.