Marcia is a long-distance caregiver for her mother, living in Florida. A few years ago, Marsha and her husband Al began looking for suitable living arrangements for her mom so that she could “age in place.” The couple was surprised at how difficult it was to find something suitable – even in a market like Florida that caters to seniors. To their surprise, they found many condos where the hallways were too narrow to accommodate a wheelchair and where the bathrooms were also not accessible and could not be converted to be so. She says “the condos were bad enough, but very few 2-story houses had a master suite on the first floor.”
The experience in Florida of not finding a suitable home for her mother is what in part led Marcia and her architect husband to make their present home accessible or easily modified for access as they grow older and might face mobility limitations. When they designed their new house, they did a few things to make the home a comfortable place to age in place – particularly if they might ever become wheelchair bound – all the while making it also contemporary and stylish. Until they give guests the “guided tour,” there is no indication that the home has critical accessibility features in place.
They made wider-than-normal hallways and doorways, a shower with no curb (roll-in) and designed a wheelchair ramp onto the deck. All of the door handles are easy to operate with mobility limitations and the master bedroom is very private, but still on the first floor with a large master bath. The kitchen counters today are standard height, but were designed to be easily converted to wheelchair height. The bathroom vanity is also wheelchair accessible. There is a second floor with plenty of guest rooms for friends and family.
The beauty of the home is that nothing about it looks out of the ordinary. Unless the owners pointed out all of the features that make the home a good one for “aging in place,” a visitor would never know that they were there. It is an attractive contemporary space that works today and will continue to meet the homeowners’ needs in the future.