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After years of public speaking about Aging in Place Home Improvements, I finally had the opportunity to be on the user side of the issue. On March 4th I had knee replacement surgery and spent the last three weeks recovering. While I took the precautions of adding grab bars, shower seat and handheld shower head to our bathroom I was unprepared for the reality of being disabled. The trauma of surgery left me weak and exhausted so even the most basic routines of daily life were unexpectedly difficult.
One of my biggest surprises was how destructive a walker can be to doorways and halls. Our house was built with 32″ wide interior doors and I could not help but occasionally scrape a door jamb with my walker. I really believe now that all interior doors should be a standard 36″ wide to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers, as well as making furniture movement easier.
Using safety grab bars on a daily basis confirmed most of the standard placements. We plan on remodeling our master bath shower soon and I have a better idea of the best placements for grab bars, seat and hand-held shower. I found the hand-held shower to be essential to showering while seated.
I am back to working at the office part time and am so glad that we rebuilt the Caton House to ADA standards! The wide doorways and lack of steps make it easy for me to get around the office.
My recovery is coming along just fine and I no longer need a walker or cane, but I will not forget how tough it is to live without full mobility. I hope my experience will make me a better designer and more responsive to the needs of my clients with physical limitations.
Certified Aging In Place Specialist