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Famed architect Michael Graves, in a wheelchair, widens his design focus

July 14

In 2003, Michael Graves had just returned home from a business trip to Germany and Switzerland. He wasn’t feeling well and told colleagues at his architectural firm that he was leaving early to go home and rest.  By the next morning, Graves, one of America’s most prominent architects and designers, was fighting for his life against a mysterious virus.


NAHB: Aging-In-Place Remodeling Checklist



Have you ever wanted a quick reference for aging-in-place issues? Are you wondering how to incorporate some aesthetically pleasing designs into your projects? If so, the Aging-In-Place Design Checklist might be suited to your needs.

The checklist below contains features you may want to consider for your next new construction or renovation project. It also provides a quick reference for various aging-in-place issues. While the list is not all-inclusive, it will get thinking in the right direction.


  • Low-maintenance exterior (vinyl, brick)
  • Low-maintenance shrubs and plants
  • Deck, patio, or balcony surfaces are no more than a half inch below interior floor level if made of wood

Overall Floor Plan

  • Main living on a single story, including full bath
  • No steps between rooms/areas on the same level
  • 5-foot by 5-foot clear/turn space in living area, kitchen, a bedroom, and a bathroom


  • Minimum of 36-inches wide, wider preferred
  • Well lit


  • Accessible path of travel to the home
  • At least one no-step entry with a cover
  • Sensor light at exterior no-step entry focusing on the front-door lock
  • There needs to be 32-inches of clear width, which requires a 36-inch door
  • Non-slip flooring in foyer
  • Entry door sidelight or high/low peep hole viewer; sidelight should provide both privacy and safety
  • Doorbell in accessible location
  • Surface to place packages on when opening door


  • Flush preferable
  • Exterior maximum of a half inch beveled
  • Interior maximum of a quarter inch

Interior Doors

  • There needs to be 32-inches of clear width, which requires a 36-inch door
  • Levered door hardware


  • Plenty of windows for natural light
  • Lowered windows or taller windows with lower sill height
  • Low maintenance exterior and interior finishes
  • Easy to operate hardware

Garage or Carport

  • Covered carports and boarding spaces
  • Wider than average carports to accommodate lifts on vans
  • Door heights may need to be nine feet to accommodate some raised roof vans
  • Five-foot minimum access aisle between accessible van and car in garage
  • If code requires floor to be several inches below entrance to house for fume protection, can slope entire floor from front to back to eliminate need for ramp or step
  • Ramp to doorway, if needed
  • Handrail, if steps


  • Lever handles or pedal-controlled
  • Thermostatic or anti-scald controls
  • Pressure balanced faucets

Kitchen and Laundry


  • Wall support and provision for adjustable and/or varied height counters and removable base cabinets
  • Upper wall cabinetry three inches lower than conventional height
  • Accented stripes on edge of countertops to provide visual orientation to the workspace
  • Counter space for dish landing adjacent to or opposite all appliances
  • Base cabinet with roll out trays and lazy susans
  • Pull-down shelving
  • Glass-front cabinet doors
  • Open shelving for easy access to frequently used items


  • Easy to read controls
  • Washing machine and dryer raised 12-15 inches above floor
  • Front loading laundry machines
  • Microwave oven at counter height or in wall
  • Side-by-side refrigerator/freezer
  • Side-swing or wall oven
  • Raised dishwasher with push-button controls
  • Electric cook top with level burners for safety in transferring between the burners, front controls and downdraft feature to pull heat away from user; light to indicate when surface is hot


  • 30-inch by 48-inch clear space at appliances or 60-inch diameter clear space for turns
  • Multi-level work areas to accommodate cooks of different heights
  • Open under-counter seated work areas
  • Placement of task lighting in appropriate work areas
  • Loop handles for easy grip and pull
  • Pull-out spray faucet; levered handles
  • In multi-story homes, laundry chute or laundry facilities in master bedroom


  • Wall support and provision for adjustable and/or varied height counters and removable base cabinets
  • Contrasting color edge border at countertops
  • At least one wheelchair maneuverable bath on main level with 60-inch turning radius or acceptable T-turn space and 36-inch by 36-inch or 30-inch by 48-inch clear space
  • Bracing in walls around tub, shower, shower seat, and toilet for installation of grab bars to support 250-300 pounds
  • If stand-up shower is used in main bath, it is curbless and minimum of 36-inches wide
  • Bathtub – lower for easier access
  • Fold down seat in the shower
  • Adjustable/handheld showerheads, 6-foot hose
  • Tub/shower controls offset from center
  • Shower stall with built-in antibacterial protection
  • Light in shower stall
  • Toilet two and half inches higher than standard toilet (17-19 inches) or height-adjustable
  • Design of the toilet paper holder allows rolls to be changed with one hand
  • Wall-hung sink with knee space and panel to protect user from pipes
  • Slip-resistant flooring in bathroom and shower

Stairways, Lifts, and Elevators

  • Adequate hand rails on both sides of stairway, one and a quarter inch diameter
  • Increased visibility of stairs through contrast strip on top and bottom stairs, color contrast between treads and risers on stairs and use of lighting
  • Multi-story homes may provide either pre-framed shaft (i.e., stacked closets) for future elevator, or stairway width must be minimum of four feet to allow space for lift
  • Residential elevator or lift


  • Slope no greater than one inch rise for each 12-inches in length, adequate handrails
  • Five-foot landing provided at entrance
  • Two-inch curbs for safety


  • Adjustable closet rods and shelves
  • Lighting in closets
  • Easy open doors that do not obstruct access

Electrical, Lighting, Safety, and Security

  • Light switches by each entrance to halls and rooms
  • Light receptacles with at least two bulbs in vital places (exits, bathroom)
  • Light switches, thermostats, and other environmental controls placed in accessible locations no higher than 48 inches from floor
  • Electrical outlets 15-inches on center from floor; may need to be closer than 12-feet apart
  • Clear access space of 30-inches by 48-inches in front of switches and controls
  • Rocker or touch light switches
  • Audible and visual strobe light system to indicate when the doorbell, telephone or smoke or CO2 detectors have been activated
  • High-tech security/intercom system that can be monitored, with the heating, air conditioning and lighting, from any TV in the house
  • Easy-to-see and read thermostats
  • Pre-programmed thermostats
  • Flashing porch light or 911 switch
  • Direct wired to police, fire and EMS (as option)
  • Home wired for security
  • Home wired for computers


  • Smooth, non-glare, slip-resistant surfaces, interior and exterior
  • If carpeted, use low (less than a half inch high pile) density, with firm pad
  • Color/texture contrast to indicate change in surface levels

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning

  • HVAC should be designed so filters are easily accessible
  • Energy-efficient units
  • Windows that can be opened for cross ventilation, fresh air

Energy-Efficient Features

  • In-line framing with two by six studs spaced 24-inches on center
  • Air-barrier installation and sealing of duct work with mastic
  • Reduced-size air conditioning units with gas furnaces
  • Mechanical fresh air ventilation, installation of air returns in all bedrooms and use of carbon monoxide detectors
  • Installation of energy efficient windows with Low-E glass

Reduced Maintenance/Convenience Features

  • Easy to clean surfaces
  • Central vacuum
  • Built-in pet feeding system
  • Built-in recycling system
  • Video phones
  • Intercom system

Other Ideas

  • Separate apartment for rental income or future caregiver
  • Flex room that can used as a nursery or playroom when the children are young and as a home office later; if combined with a full bath, room could also be used for an aging parent/aging in place

Senior Or Not Senior — That Is The Question

by , Aug 5, 2013

An article in the Chicago Tribune’s June’s Primetime section, titled “Language Lurch,” discussed the need for a new vocabulary as ageist terms get old. Referenced was a survey conducted by to gauge the responses of 1,114 people to the language used when describing individuals 50 and older. The survey’s findings reveal that the linguistic map needs an update, as certain words and phrases have fallen out of fashion or, worse, become patently offensive to older customers.  (more…)

A Quiet ‘Sea Change’ in Medicare


Glenda Jimmo at home in Lincoln, Vt., in 2012. She was the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit over whether Medicare should pay for treatment for people whose underlying conditions were not likely to improve.Ever since Cindy Hasz opened her geriatric care management business in San Diego 13 years ago, she has been fighting a losing battle for clients unable to get Medicare coverage for physical therapy because they “plateaued” and were not getting better.

“It has been standard operating procedure that patients will be discontinued from therapy services because they are not improving,” she said.

Moving in with grandma and grandpa: What to expect

By Barrier Free Architecturals Inc.

As baby boomers grow older, many families are making decisions on where their parents will live. Some living options include parents staying at home; intergenerational housing where parents move in with their children and grandchildren, or parents moving into a retirement home, supportive housing or a long-term care home. (more…)

I’d Rather Ask For Forgiveness Than Permission! – An Email From A Generous Best Bath Dealer

logo1_1022_004[1]We here at Best Bath Systems are constantly being reminded of why we love our Dealer network.  This is an email that was sent to our Mid Atlantic Sales Manager, Joe Hayden, from Ginny with Free Spirit Mobility, a generous dealer with Best Bath from Greer, South Carolina: (more…)

Westerners with Alzheimer’s find care abroad

By DENIS D. GRAY, Associated PressDecember 30, 2013

A Thai caretaker consoles Elizabeth, an Alzheimer’s patient from Switzerland at Baan Kamlangchay care center in northern Thailand. Thailand is poised to attract more Alzheimer’s patients from abroad.

A Thai caretaker consoles Elizabeth, an Alzheimer’s patient from Switzerland at Baan Kamlangchay care center in northern Thailand. Thailand is poised to attract more Alzheimer’s patients from abroad

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — Residents of this facility for people with Alzheimer’s disease toss around a yellow ball and laugh under a cascade of water with their caregivers, in a swimming pool ringed by palm trees and wind chimes. Susanna Kuratli, once a painter of delicate oils, swims a lap and smiles.

Watching is her husband, Ulrich, who has a heart-rending decision: to leave his wife of 41 years in this facility 9,000 kilometers (5,600 miles) from home, or to bring her back to Switzerland.

Their homeland treats the elderly as well as any nation on Earth, but Ulrich Kuratli says the care here in northern Thailand is not only less expensive but more personal. In Switzerland, “You have a cold, old lady who gives you pills and tells you to go to bed,” he says.


6.4 Percent Rise In Home Values Good For Home Repairs & Home Improvements – House Doctors CEO

Cincinnati, Ohio (PRWEB) October 21, 2013

The third quarter Zillow Real Estate Market Report shows the  U.S. Zillow Home Value Index standing at $163,000 as of the end of the third quarter. This is a good pace for the market and good for  home repairs  and home improvements says Jim Hunter CEO of National Remodeling Company House Doctors.


Aging in place: A New Frontier In Housing


The Costs of Long Term Care

Posted on Tue, Sep 10, 2013:

The Cost Of Long Term Care


Having an understanding of long term care costs is important for both the aging person who may need care now (or soon) and the Boomer adult who should be considering long-term care costs as part of retirement planning. Especially in light of the recent AARP study on the massive shortage of caregivers that will be available for the Boomer generation, we all need to be putting some consideration in to these issues.

Here are some quick statistics on nationwide average costs for long term care (from the 2012 MetLife market study of long term care):

  • The national average daily rate for a private room in a nursing home was $248, while a semi-private room was $222 up from $239 and $214 respectively in 2011.
  • The national average monthly base rate in an assisted living community rose from $3,477 in 2011 to $3,550 in 2012.
  • The national average daily rate for adult day services remained unchanged from 2011 at $70 in 2012.
  • The national average hourly rates for home health aides ($21) remained unchanged, while the homemaker hourly rate increased by 5.3% from $19 in 2011 to $20 in 2012.

The Cost Of Long Term Care

More specifically, the average costs of long term care in Florida are:
  • A private room in a nursing home in Florida averaged $259/day, while a semi-private room (far more common) averaged $230.
  • The assisted living base rate averaged $3234/month.
  • Adult day services averaged about $60/day throughout the state.
  • Home care costs in Florida: the rate for a home health aide averaged $18/hour and for a homemaker companion slightly less at $17 (a homemaker companion provides non-hands on help only, such as light housekeeping, meal preparation, transportation and companionship).
Florida is relatively affordable in the range of costs compared with nationwide averages, though by no means the cheapest state (and slightly above average in nursing home rates). As in most states, these costs also vary fairly significantly by area, with larger metropolitan areas like Miami tending to have higher costs. Additionally, there is wide variation from lowest to highest cost and all types of options for receiving care (from large rooms at “luxury” assisted living facilities to smaller “Mom and Pop” ALFs with options like shared rooms).
Here are some important considerations about long term care costs and Florida eldercare as you look beyond these averages:
  • Assisted living rates are given as base rates. ALF contracts and billing vary widely, with some using a “level of care” model in which they determine the additional cost based on an assessment that places you within a certain level based on your needs or a la carte pricing for specific care services. Some use a more all-inclusive pricing model or may even use a combination of approaches.
  • Often care is closely tied in to other living expenses and comparing costs requires looking at a more comprehensive budget. For example, a person receiving care at home has normal housing and living expenses such as utilities, groceries, mortgage/rent and maintenance. In a nursing home, residents will generally not incur any of those costs unless they continue to maintain their original home. In an assisted living facility, a number of those items are rolled in to the rate, though there may be additional costs (such as paying for phone or cable or buying personal groceries or restaurant meals).
  • Related to the budgeting information above, long term care insurance will generally only pick up the costs of care. However, living expenses aren’t necessarily separated out in facility-based care (in other words, if you receive care at home, your LTC insurance will not cover utilities and home costs but a daily rate in a facility is more likely to include all of those costs).
  • What other expenses should you consider in overall costs? Do not forget, for example: medical costs/insurance, medications, travel expenses, quality of life items (newspaper subscriptions, snacks, getting your hair done, personal training services, extra companion/help), transportation costs.
  • Account for inflation. These are good estimates of today’s costs and you should expect prices to rise along with other living expenses.

A geriatric care manager can help you with understanding your potential long-term care costs, the options for eldercare and creating a projected budget. If you are a professional advisor, it may be worthwhile working in partnership with a care manager to help better prepare and advise your clients. A care manager can give you real insight about true costs so that you can really be as prepared as possible.

At the time of need, a care manager will help you access the care you need (and get the best care possible), assist with advocacy and claims, help you prepare a care plan for your budget and help you with eligibility for benefits programs. A care manager can also help you understand contracts and payment options, as well as negotiate and determine the appropriate level of care.