all-access home

Tips for All-Access Home

all-access home

All-Access Home


Adjustable light will allow you to set the mood for a party or a romantic dinner and give you the flexibility to increase brightness when you have work to tackle.

By: Patricia Moore

Enhance Exteriors and Entryways
There’s much more to creating a home that welcomes all visitors than simply adding ramped access. Other entry measures, such as nonslip flooring, an easy-to-reach doorbell and a motion-sensor lamp that switches on and off automatically will enhance your home for the long haul. Also consider the suggestions below:

Low-Maintenance Exteriors for Long-Lasting Enjoyment
For the home’s exterior, choose low-maintenance materials for siding, decking, landscaping and even gutters. Long-lasting, prefinished siding means less cumbersome repainting; composite decking means never refinishing again; the right shrubs and plants can mean less trimming and watering; and gutter guards eliminate an often-dangerous fall cleaning chore.

* Today’s Benefit: Spend weekends and vacations enjoying your home instead of maintaining it. These low-maintenance solutions will accommodate your busy lifestyle.

* Tomorrow’s Bonus: Experience lasting beauty and enjoyment in your home without worrying about costly repairs or slip-and-fall hazards.

Prepare the Path
For the path to the house, create a smooth walkway to the front door that anyone can take, regardless of their overall mobility. Ensure there is a way to enter without using stairs by incorporating ramps or other means to create a barrier-free pathway. Ramps can be integrated seamlessly into the overall exterior in a manner that is both practical and unobtrusive.

* Today’s Benefit: Seamless design and spacious, uncluttered landscapes will welcome you home every day.

* Tomorrow’s Bonus: Smooth walkways and barrier-free access to your home will allow the entire family easy access for many years.

Ease the Entry
At the entry, consider the size necessary to accommodate a wheelchair or walker, and look for door handles that are easily manipulated by hands of all ages. The front door should be at least 35 inches wide, and the door handle should be a lever. The change in level from the exterior entry floor to the interior floor should be no more than a half inch. The entry door should be protected against rain and weather by an overhead covering such as a roof extension, a broad overhang or an awning.

* Today’s Benefit: A wider door makes it much easier to bring in large boxes from your car. Parents and grandparents of small children will appreciate the wider door when bringing kids in and out of the home. A dry spot at the front door makes it more pleasant to find the keys on a rainy day. And wouldn’t you appreciate a reasonably flat threshold if you were returning home with a sprained ankle?

* Tomorrow’s Bonus: An inviting entryway that can accommodate changes in your mobility will help you live at home longer.

Clean Up Your Laundry Room
Laundry rooms are areas that are frequently forgotten, but a few design considerations can open up your laundry room for a lifetime of easy use. Make sure that the space is large enough to avoid trip hazards and to accommodate a wheelchair. Consider a front-load washer to make it easier for the mobility impaired to be able to access it from a seated position.

Also consider combining the laundry room with a master closet. Use this area for washing, drying, ironing and storing clothing. This tip will save you floor space in your home and make a much more efficient laundry day.

* Today’s Benefit: Use the extra space and the logical arrangement of laundry-related items to save you time and energy on laundry day.

* Tomorrow’s Bonus: Mobility-impaired family members will appreciate the extra space, allowing them to move around the laundry room with a walker or in a wheelchair without banging into walls. Older family members will appreciate that these accommodations allow them to enjoy their independence much longer.

Lighten Up
Our aging eyes gradually lose their ability to see well in dim light, so installing more lights now will reap benefits in years to come. Include ambient lighting to brighten up every room, but also install spot-focused and adjustable lighting that will illuminate countertops, bathroom sinks, stairways and other working areas.

* Today’s Benefit: Adjustable light fixtures will allow you to set the mood for a party or a romantic dinner for two and give you the flexibility to increase brightness when you have work or projects to tackle.

* Tomorrow’s Bonus: As your eyesight naturally declines, you will enjoy the ample lighting and its adjustability to accommodate all your essential tasks.

About the Author:
Moore is an internationally renowned gerontologist and designer, serving as a leading authority on consumer lifespan behaviors and requirements. For a period of three years (1979-1982), in an exceptional and daring experiment, Moore traveled throughout the United States and Canada disguised as women more than eighty years of age. With her body altered to simulate the normal sensory changes associated with aging, she was able to respond to people, products, and environments as an elder.

Follow this series of articles on Not Just the Kitchen for more tips on making your home All-Access.

Photo: Holiday Home