It’s that special time of the year when families get together for the holidays. Relatives and close friends stop in to say hello, so we spend a lot of time cleaning, shopping, and cooking in preparation for these visits from our loved ones. Your home may be spotless but is it actually ready to safely receive all your visitors?
Physical and occupation therapists as well as universal design advocates have coined a new word for getting your home ready to receive family and friends: Visitability. In other words, visitability makes sure your house is accessible to anyone of any age, stature, condition, or ability.
Don’t panic if you are just realizing that Grandma uses a walker and the last time, the toddler toppled over for no apparent reason.
Here are 6 simple low cost ways to improve visitability and Granny-Proof your home:
- Install a ramp. If there are steps to get into your home, rent a ramp. Medical aid retailers will review your home’s specific needs and then deliver and install the right solution.
- Open up your entrance. Is your doorway a minimum of 32 inches? It needs to be 36 inches for a guest in a wheelchair. If your doorway is not wide enough, look at other ways for guest with special needs to enter your home. You can also replace existing door hinges with swing clear hinges to open things up more.
- Clear away the clutter. Once a guest steps inside your home, are pathways free of clutter? And are your rugs secure? If you don’t have the stamina to deal with the clutter right now, just hide it temporarily in a part of the house that won’t be used by your guests.Rug grips are a simple and inexpensive way to secure everyone’s footing.
- Keep all gathering areas well lit. Replace light bulbs with LED bulbs. And if necessary, add lamps to the gathering area. If you need additional lights, just borrow them from one of the bedrooms.
- Install grab bars. If you don’t have grab bars in your bathroom, consider installing them. A short term alternative would be to use suction cup grab bars. This is not a permanent solution but can work as a temporary solution for holiday visitors.
- Check your chairs. Finally, people with balance issues, ailing knees or hips, or who just don’t have much energy, find it much easier to rise from chairs with arms and a firm seat.
Follow these simple steps to increase the Visitability of your home this holiday season. Have a safe and happy holiday season!
About Marian Berman and Living In Place Solutions
Marian discovered her passion for helping people age in place through personal experience and near tragedy. As owner of Gallery 44, a successful and acclaimed art gallery in Howard County Maryland, Marian enjoyed a wonderful life until 2012 when she contracted pneumonia and sepsis. Within four days, she went from a workaholic businesswoman into a medically induced coma.
After coming out of the coma 4 weeks later, Marian spent the next 3 ½ months in the hospital recovering. Finally released from the hospital she couldn’t wait to get home and get back to her normal life. What happened next changed the trajectory of her career path. No one had thought to inspect her home to make sure it was livable for someone in Marian’s current condition. She couldn’t even get up the stairs to enter her home.
Undaunted, Marian put her business experience and contacts in the health services and home remodeling industries to work for her and refitted the house for her needs as she continued to recover.
In 2014, she became a home remodeling facilitator and began working with long-time friend and home remodeler Michael Stack to retrofit homes for the aging and physically handicapped. She received her Aging In Place Certification in 2020, Age Safe America Certification in 2021 and her Living In Place Certification in 2021. She founded Living In Place Solutions with Michael Stack in 2021 to make homes safe for people of all ages and abilities.
Marian was born in Baltimore, Maryland and received a BA degree in English from Agnes Scott College.