Nancy Nall Reporting

It would be nice if we could all live in one-floor ranch houses with wide doorways, low thresholds and kitchen counters we could reach from a wheelchair. But we can’t, and so we have to make do with what we have. How to make your beloved old homestead a little more welcoming to the old and frail? Start by asking a contractor for advice.

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The good news is, technology has made life easier for everyone, and especially the older adult. Most homes can be equipped with at least some assistive devices or modifications that will make life easier, everything from electronic monitors to special hinges that can make doorways incrementally wider without major remodeling. As the population ages and more people work to stay in their homes, look for more of these to appear on the market. Remodeling can be expensive, but you may not need a full remodeling.

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Tap the ideas and energies of the many people out there adapting universal design to today’s homes. Celebrity remodeler Bob Vila has some ideas on how to make even multi-level homes more accessible. The Department of Housing and Urban Development offers guidelines on renovation to accessibility standards. There are smart ideas to make the most important rooms, particularly the bathroom, safer and easier to navigate.


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