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A Home For Life T

By Darin Burt

here are plenty of fantastic senior living communities out there. But for many older

adults, no matter how wonderful the location and terrific the services, a senior community isn’t their first choice—staying at home is. “We’re all living longer, more

active lives. Because of that, older adults are thinking that they can stay in their own home where they can have more independence and flexibility in how they live their life,” points out Kathy Bryant, an accredited Senior Real Estate Specialist and Broker with Century 21 Beutler & Associates. Bryant points out that Spokane

is traditionally a stable community where people raise their families in a home where they may live 30 or 40 years. With the young ones having left the nest, older adults may start to think about downsizing or moving into a home where they will be able to live more comfortably, safely and simply. No matter how wonderful a home

may be, there are some basic changes that will make it more livable as you age. The earlier a homeowner starts to think about aging-in-place options, the better chance they won’t have to relocate later on. “You never know what your

situation may be,” says Dave Covillo, 30-year veteran of the home construction industry and owner of

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Renovations by Dave Covillo. A single-level home may be the

perfect type of residence for older adults who may have difficulty negotiating stairs or who have limited mobility. Still, every home has steps, even if it’s just at the front porch. Building codes state that a handrail is not necessary for fewer than two steps. But as Covillo points out, “Even one step can be detrimental when you’re getting older. Simply installing a gab bar can help people keep their balance and more easily maneuver up and down the steps.” A report from Cambridge

University indicates that one out every three people over the age of 65 falls at least once a year. The majority of these accidents were caused by a slip, and some even resulted in death. While some situations are unavoidable, slip-resistant flooring can make your home safer and more disability-friendly. People who suffer from stiff or

aching joints due to illness or injury will be able to walk easier on a slip-resistant surface. Low-cut pile carpet and cork flooring are ideal for people who have difficulty walking and may also suffer from arthritis or rheumatism. When shopping for slip resistant

flooring, keep in mind that it needs to allow for some slippage. Flooring

with too much slip-resistance can limit natural strides and cause tripping. Carpet that is installed improperly can bunch up and wrinkle over time, making walking difficult. Another common mistake is to put hardwood on steps. In the bathroom, an often-

recommended modification is the installation of a comfort-height toilet. Comfort-height toilets are slightly higher than a standard toilet, and allow a person to sit and return to a standing position or transfer to a wheelchair or other mobility device more easily. The comfort- height toilet operates in the same way a standard toilet does and is comparably priced to a high-quality standard fixture. Several manufacturers make

comfort-height toilets that also offer quiet-flush and water-saving features, the latter of which can help recover the cost of the toilet in just a few years. Additionally, dual-flush (water-saving) toilets often have a push-button flush mechanism, which may be easier to operate for someone with arthritis or other joint-strength impairments. The kitchen is another room we

all use on a regular basis. To make the kitchen more senior-friendly, consider installing a sink that can be raised or lowered, cabinet doors that retract inward to leave knee space for those in wheelchairs and roll-out

Modifying your living environment promotes greater accessibility and independence as you age

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