Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.
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Macmillan focused particularly on bathroom modifications. "It's the most dangerous room in the house for anybody who is not com- pletely stable," he says. "This year we're probably going to do 65 bath- room renovations. Almost all of them will include removal of a tub or shower unit that has a threshold." Removing the barrier between the bathing area and the rest of the bathroom eliminates a tripping hazard and accommodates walkers and wheelchairs. The floor of the shower area is sloped so that the water flows into the drain. Other shower essentials include no-slip tile, a fold-down bench, and strategically placed grab bars. Macmillan suggested replacing the existing toilet, which was 15 inches from floor to seat, with one that was at least 17 inches high. But he stressed that modifications must be tailored to the individual's physical abilities and habits. In this case, the senior was accustomed to grabbing a towel rack opposite the toilet as he stood. "When you change anything in the bathroom, all the ergonomics have changed," Macmillan says. "He may have developed muscles to grab on at this height and pull himself up." Newton architect Deborah Pierce says the first hurdle she often faces is persuading clients that modifications can be both economically wise and aesthetically pleasing. "Accessibility is very affordable if part of a larger renovation project," says Pierce, author of The Accessible Home: Designing for All Ages and Abilities (Taunton Press, 2012). As an example, she points out that it's much less expensive, say, to widen a doorway or enlarge a bathroom when a building crew is already on the scene excavating walls and floors. "My book is all about making the improvements in a way that increases the value of the home, not make it appear like it's some kind of random modification," she says. For kitchen renovations, Pierce emphasizes putting everything within easy reach: lower counters for cooks in wheelchairs (or those 102 Making Home a Safe Haven W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | s u m m e r 2 0 1 4 10 simple steps for a safer home Seniors should upgrade lights throughout the home and replace light switches with rocker-type controls. 1. CLEAR OUT FLOOR CLUTTER, extraneous furniture, extension cords, and other tripping hazards. Arrange furniture to provide extra space for walking. 2. REMOVE SCATTER RUGS and make sure area rugs have non-slip backing and their edges are securely in place. Install nonslip mats in bath tubs and shower stalls. 3. USE LEVER HANDLES for doorknobs and faucets. 4. REPLACE TOGGLE LIGHT SWITCHES with rocker-type controls. 5. INSTALL MOTION-ACTIVATED LED LIGHTS at doorways and along passageways and stairways. 6. INSTALL HANDRAILS on both sides of stairways. 7. POSITION BATHROOM DOORS so they open out or replace them with pocket doors. A senior's fall may block a door that swings inward. 8. INSTALL GRAB BARS near toilets and in bathing areas. Make sure they are secured to a structural element, such as a wall stud. 9. INSTALL PULLOUT DRAWERS rather than fixed shelves in storage cabinets. 10. REMOVE THRESHOLDS between rooms or replace them with gently sloping transitions if floor levels are uneven. N E B E S N A Y A / D R E A M S T I M E . C O M 098-106_WWMb14_senior friendly_v2_WellesleyWeston Magazine 4/24/14 3:47 PM Page 102