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Design Ideas Senior Care

Improve Accessibility and Visitability with Threshold Ramps

Accessibility is the ability of the person in the household to move about (e.g. through doorways, down stairs) or do daily household chores (e.g. make dinner, do laundry). Visitability is achieved when someone is visiting your home and through some modifications or just forward thinking, they have no problems accessing certain rooms (e.g. bathroom) or moving about. Both of these objectives can be partially achieved through the addition of threshold ramps.

Threshold ramps are generally placed at the point of transition between two rooms, where there is often a currently existing transition strip or a short step-up. These changes in height can prove troublesome and even dangerous (due to trips and falls) for people who have mobility issues.

Installing permanent or temporary threshold ramps at these points in the home can make it much more accessible for the home owner and a much friendly environment to visit for friends and family.

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Design Ideas

Smart Plugs and Thermostats for Safety and Comfort

Smart Plug For A Receptacle

Homes contain many potential fire hazards, like a stove that’s left on or space heaters overheating next to some bedding. Installing a few smart plugs or smart outlets to use with these devices can give you peace of mind, even if you live far away. You’ll be able to remotely control and monitor the power to those plugs or outlets via your smartphone and check in anytime to see if there are any potential dangers. As well, you can schedule when these devices turn on to ensure that areas are well lit when required, to avoid slips and falls in the home.

Google Nest Smart Thermostat

Many modern thermostats now include WiFi-enabled controls and intelligent scheduling. As a caregiver, you could remotely access the thermostat to set the temperature on a schedule, turn up the heat ahead of a major storm, or turn on the air conditioner during a heat wave. If your older adult has limited mobility, a smart thermostat can allow them to easily control the temperature from their smartphone or tablet instead of having to get up.

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Design Ideas

Making Your Home “Visitable”

While you may not require any changes or modifications to your home for yourself, many people have friends and relatives who require some level of modification to be able to visit. This is called “visitability” and it is becoming more and more popular for individuals as well as for planning organizations in various levels of government.

So, what makes a home “visitable”? Of course, if you have a specific person or group of people in mind, the answer to this question can also be specific. However, there are a number of common elements to home visitability.

At least one zero-step entrance. This can be either at the front or back of the house but the idea is to have a way for people to enter the house without having to use steps.

Interior doors having a minimum of clear-opening of 32 inches. This is to allow people in wheelchairs, walkers, etc. to be able to get through the door. If possible, making the doorway even wider and adding easy-open hardware (like lever door handles which don’t require someone to grip and turn) is also recommended.

36 inch wide hallways. These allow for easy movement through the ground floor and while doors might be slightly narrower, it is important to not have high thresholds at the doors. It’s recommended to be less than 1/2 inch but 1/4 is even better.

Ground floor bathrooms. Making a bathroom accessible on the main floor making visiting so much easier for people with accessibility issues.

Controls less than 48 inches above floor level. Whether they be light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats, etc., having the house controls at the level allows everyone access.

Visitability is a basic component of universal design principles which focus on creating homes that everyone can live in and visit. Whether you are doing it for yourself, friends, family or just someone who drops by, giving thought to some of these changes can make a world of difference to someone visiting you. Want some more information? Why not visit VisitAble Housing Canada to learn a bit more!