Tag Archive 'assist devices'

Mar 17 2009

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How to build for aging in place

Ed Cohen

March 16, 2009

The non-profit Foundation for Senior Living has a model Caregiver House in Phoenix where caregivers and builders can see how to design or retrofit a house to suit a person with mobility limitations.

Here are some of the “Inventive Solutions for Aging in Place” the organization’s staff shared at a packed session this morning:

  • It can be hard fitting a wheelchair or walker through a standard-width doorway. You can gain a few inches by replacing the hinges with an expandable or offset version that allows you to get the door completely outside of the door frame when opened. Another simple idea is to move the wheels of your walker from the outside of the walker to the inside, saving about three inches in diameter per wheel.
  • Instead of trying to help a senior step up and over the side of a tub to bathe, use a transfer bench. With this contraption the senior sits down on a plastic seat that rests on a track running from outside the tub to inside. The person lifts his or her legs up and ten can slide over into the tub area while remaining on the seat. An even more elegant, but much more expensive ($8,000-$14,000) alternative, is to install a flat-floor shower with the shower sprayer on a wand. The caregiver then rolls the person into the shower in the wheeled chair and bathes the person. That way the caregiver deosn’t have to lean over the side of a tub.
  • The Caregiver House has a conventional dishwasher raised up from its normal height to make it easier to load. Also, the freezer on the bottom of a refrigerator has racks that open outward when the door is opened, and the cabinets have a space underneath for the foot rests of a wheelchair. That allows someone in a wheelchair to get close enough to a cabinet to reach inside.
  • Gardening can be therapeutic, but it’s hard to do from one’s hands and knees, especially someone with mobility issues. The Caregiver House has a raised flower bed that people can work in while seated in a wheelchair or on a scooter.
  • Nosey cups have one part of the lip cut out to fit over one’s nose when drinking. Why? Some people have difficulty tilting their head back far enough to drink.
  • It can be nearly impossible to hoist someone into and out of a car. A round swivel pad is the answer. Have the person back into the car, sitting down the swivel pad, then simply swing the legs into or out of the car. A cheaper makeshift swivel device can consist of a tough large plastic trash bag doubled over itself.

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