None of us are getting any younger. Some of us have trouble maneuvering steps or seeing in dim lighting. Kids and grandkids come in strollers. An injury or surgery can make everyday living more challenging. Sickness or new medications can make you unsteady on your feet.
Visibility means allowing everyone to be able to visit your home. Getting in and out of your home. Using the bathroom facilities. Things that benefit both the visitors and the homeowners. It focuses on the low-hanging fruit for long-term solutions. It can be applied to your home now, and it can be taken into consideration when you remodel, add, or build a new home.
Let’s start by welcoming your visitor into your home. Provide a walkway with a solid, smooth, flat surface (concrete better than pavers), clear of vegetation and overgrowth, from the sidewalk or their car to your front door. Low path lighting is helpful and can be solar-powered. Outside lighting above or next to your door should not shine in your visitors’ eyes. If there is a step or staircase, install handrails on at least one side. Even one step should have a short railing or grab bar. Replacing a single step with a sloped walkway is helpful. Remember that close friends and family might find a side or rear door to be easier to access.
New front porch: The original design showed shallow brick stairs with handrails on both sides leading up to the porch.
New front porch: The driveway was raised slightly to be the same height as the new porch, which is the same level as the floor inside.
Once inside, remember that throw rugs and a cluttered entry tend to be tripping hazards. Install coat hooks, wall shelves, and organizers to corral your items! Turn on lamps inside if your house is dark compared to the bright sunshine outside. Offer a range of seating types, including chairs with backs and sofas with arms. Seats that are 14 to 16 inches above the floor or higher can be easier for some people to stand up from. Make sure lamps don’t shine into people’s eyes, and pull the blinds or curtains across any windows with direct sun or glare.
Finally, make one bathroom easy for your guest to use. A door wide enough you don’t have to turn sideways to go through it. A light switch next to the door, with a light bright enough to cause shadows. Again, avoid any clutter on the floor or vanity counter. A grab bar may be installed next to the toilet. A second roll of toilet paper may be left out on the vanity to avoid twisting to reach an awkwardly placed toilet paper holder. Replace the sink faucet handles with large, lever-style handles that are easy to use. And make it obvious which soap and towel your guest should help themselves to.
Visitability solutions can be part of an overall aging-gracefully-in-place strategy or a more advanced accessibility renovation. Make small changes now that will make visiting your home easier and more enjoyable for all your friends and family.