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Evaluate Your Home

Home safety risk in the bathroomIt is important to use an assessment tool to analyze all aspects of your home.  Some safety risks can be addressed through use of home care and safety products while others may require some type of home modification.  The below list serves as an assessment tool for the senior, their guardian or loved one to identify areas that typically create safety risk and may require consideration for home renovation.  Home modification or renovation decisions and the need for assistive products is driven by the assessment tool evaluation results.  



Home Design Checklist Possible Home Design Remedy
Entrance and Exit Assessment Adjustable controls on light switches
  Surface to place packages on when opening the door
  Keyless door lock operated by remote control or keypad
  Sensor light at entry aiming at front door lock
  36-inch wide door (to accommodate 32 inches width)
  High/low peephole viewer
Bathroom Assessment Walk-in bathtub
  Counters edges are rounded
  Handrails extend beyond the top and bottom of the stairs
  No stairs to bedroom or bathroom
  Stairway handrails on both sides
  Space to transfer from wheelchair to toilet (wheelchair)
  Toilets (or toilet seats) should contrast with both the floor and surrounding walls
  Use only rubber backed rugs
Kitchen Assessment Cabinet shelves are no more than 10 inches deep
  Cooktop has easy-to-reach controls at the front
  Microwave oven is no higher than 48 inches above the floor.
  Side-by-side refrigerator
  Sink controls are on the side
  Upper kitchen cabinets are 48 inches from the floor
  Edge of counters a different color than the top
  Under-the-cabinet lights are over the kitchen counter.  Great information can be found at http://www.lrc.rpi.edu/programs/solidstate/assist/pdf/undercabinet1.pdf
  Countertop height various levels (some as low as 30”)
  Lower kitchen cabinets sit inches above the floor
  Sink no more than 6 inches deep (wheelchair)
  Appliances have controls at the front (primarily for wheelchair)
  Cabinet shelves no more than 10 inches deep (wheelchair)
  Heat-resistant counter near my microwave oven (wheelchair)
  Kitchen and closets have pull-down shelving (wheelchair)
  Microwave oven is no higher than 48 inches above the floor (wheelchair)
  Oven doors swing to the side (wheelchair)
  Pullout shelves in the kitchenPull down closet rod and roll out shelves help the disabled, the elderly and seniors in general.
  Side-by-side refrigerator (wheelchair)
  Knee space under the stove (wheelchair)
  Knee space under all sinks (wheelchair)
  Countertops smooth so heavy pans can slide across them
  Cabinets and drawers have D-shape handles
  Special hardware to make drawers slide easily
  Spray hose to fill pots on the stove
  Trash compactor to minimize trash bags.  One specific product is Broan – Elite Trash Compactor
  Dishwasher is eight inches from the floor
  Sink basins should contrast with the surrounding counter/vanity top
  Rearrange dishes for easier access and less reach
  Turn down hot water heater to max 120 degrees
  Garbage disposal to reduce trash
Walkway Assessment Edge of each step is a color that stands out
  Driveway is smooth, but not slippery
  Ramp to front door with handrails on both sides
  Outside walkways, and entrances are all well-lit
  Steps are a different color than the surrounding area
  Stairs have slip-resistent surface, prefer removal of carpeting
  The threshold on door is no higher than 1/4 inch (wheelchair)
  Can wheel from car to the front door and then inside (wheelchair)
  Add handrail to both walls
  Add reflective strips to stairs
  Can wheel to bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen (wheelchair)
  Doors and hallways are wide enough for a wheelchair
  Floors are non-skid smooth; carpet has a low pile and a firm pad (wheelchair)
  Ramp has an edging (wheelchair)Threhold ramps and ramps in general provide means for access to living independently
  Ramp to my front door with landings at bottom and top (wheelchair)
  Threshold on door is 1/4 inch or less
  Stair treads are 10 to 11-inches deep, wide enough for entire foot
  Stair rise is no more than 7-inches from one step to the next
  Multi-story homes may provide either pre-framed shaft (i.e. stacked closets) for future elevator, or stairway width must be a minimum of 4 feet to allow space for a stair lift
Bathroom Assessment Turn around and transfer space for walker or wheelchair (36″ by 36″)
  Grab bars at back and sides of shower, tub and toilet
  Doors have lever handles
  Push-button controls are on appliances
  Rocker light switches
  Sinks with  ever faucet handles
  Elevated toilet or toilet seat
  Countertops that can be used while sitting (wheelchair) otherwise higher
  Roll-in shower (wheelchair)
  Way to transfer into the tub (wheelchair)
  Curb-less shower with minimum of 36-inches width
  Offset from center tub/shower controls
  Wall-hung sink to accommodate knee space with a panel to protect user from pipes
  Bathtub with door for in/out ease, or a bath lift
  Color contrast edge borders at counter tops
  One hand toilet paper holder dispenser
Bedroom Assessment “Walk-in” closet wide enough for wheelchair/walker
  Use leg post risers to raise height of bed
  Install grab bar near bed
Living Room Assessment Seating at least 18” off the floor
  Chairs with sturdy arms
  Chair seats should contrast to see edge of the chair
  Add risers to furniture
  Rearrange furniture to maximize open area
Electrical / Lighting Clutter and electric cords are out of pathways
  Increased wattage of light bulbs
  Lights are in all closets
  Electrical outlets are 2 inches above the floor (wheelchair) and 18” otherwise (can do using power strips)
  Light switches at   42” vs 48” and at each side of rooms to prevent crossing dark room to turn off
  Luminous switches in bedrooms, baths and hallways and rope lighting under kitchen cabinets and along floorboard to illuminate pathways at nightRope lighting and specifically placed electrical switches and auto shutoff electrical outlets make home safety a priority to aging in place.
  Stairs are well lit
  Skylights admit 30 percent more light than vertical windows in dormers
General Home Design No area rugs
  Carpet is low pile and a firm pad
  Floors are smooth and slip-resistant
  Handrails or threshold ramps to get through interior doorways with uneven surface
  Strobe light or vibrator assisted smoke and burglar alarms
  Programmable thermostats for heating and cooling Honeywell – 7-day Programmable Thermostat With Wi-fi Capability
  Closet organizer to help reach all belongings (wheelchair) Get Organized or Organize.comHome organization is possible with a closet organizer, storage containers, a shoe rack and other products for organizing your home.
  Closet rods pull down to a comfortable level (wheelchair) Go to Rockler Woodworking and Hardware
  Enough floor space near doors to move wheelchair
  Adapt to single floor living
  Maintain good air quality for respiratory sensitivities
  Levered door handles vs knobs
  Color borders around floor and walls and counter-top edges
  Matte finish paint, flooring and counter-tops
  Non-glare glass on art work
Garage Assessment Hang a tennis ball to gauge the stopping spot for your car
Laundry Room Assessment Add a platform underneath a front-load washer and dryer if you have problems bending over to load and unload laundry

See Aging In Place Household Products and Safety Products For Aging In Place for products that can be used to implement your new home design and remedy shortfalls.  For additional information, an International Association of Certified Home Inspectors home assessment assessment tool can be found at http://www.nachi.org/documents/aging-in-place-inspection-checklist.pdf.

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