The holiday season, more than any other time of year, allows us an opportunity to welcome family and friends into our homes. While not all of our homes subscribe to “visitability” – a sustainable and inclusive design approach that integrates basic Universal Design features to make it easier for those seniors and those with mobility impairments to visit friends and family and remain active – there are several simple modifications that will provide safety and comfort to visitors, regardless of age and capability.
Clear the Way – Offer guests a clear and defined entry path to your home that is well lit and absent of any weather related hazards.
Secure Rugs and Carpets – Secure area rugs with non-slip padding and repair any curled up rug edges to avoid one of the most common accidents affecting seniors.
Declutter – Not all homes have the benefit of an open floor plan. To allow for a smooth traffic flow and better sightlines with increased guests in the home, eliminate bulky furniture and excess objects around the home.
Lighten Up – Keep your hallways and outdoor walkways well-lit for guests who may have diminishing eyesight. Night lights in bathrooms and guest room bedside lamps that are within reach will also assist overnight guests.
Tighten Up – Be sure inside and outside stair railings are stable and that any carpeting, runners or mats on the stairs are secure.
More and more, newly-built homes are incorporating universal design and visitability features such as one zero-step home entry, wider doorways and main floor bathrooms. Older homes typically do not carry these key features. While these 5 tips are meaningful and relatively simple short term modifications to better meet the safety needs of your holiday guests, The National Association of Home Builders estimates that over 70% of homeowners completing remodeling projects are making permanent age-related improvements that also address visitability. If you are considering larger universal design renovations to meet growing aging-in-place needs and visitability, be sure to consult Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) like AIP Designs. CAPS is a designation developed by the National Association of Home Builders Remodelers™ Council, in collaboration with the AARP, NAHB Research Center and NAHB Seniors Housing Council to ensure a specially-trained and skilled partner.