There are many ways for us to approach helping someone to remain in their home long term. The aging in place designs we create are based on enhancing the general safety, comfort, convenience, and accessibility needs of our clients within their homes. These, of course, are dependent on a few factors such as the age and condition of their home, what will reasonably fit in their home without major or more expensive modifications, the current lifestyle of the occupants, what they want to maintain or achieve, their personal desires, their physical abilities, and of course their budget.
We may have many “standard” renovations or approaches that we like to use when all things are equal, but they are not always appropriate for each case. For instance, a walk-in or zero-step shower which generally means one without barriers or obstacles still might have some kind of a water dam, small threshold, or lip to negotiate or overcome by the user.
That said, a barrier-free shower might be desirable in a home; however, the occupants may not want their bathtub removed even though it’s not particularly safe for them, and they may have other more urgent and higher priority needs – the flooring, wiring, lighting, appliances, cabinetry, passageways, and other areas of their home so that the shower is much further down on their list.
If we are to apply a standard approach to aging in place design, we would include showers in our Top 10 and possibly near the top of the list. However, we don’t get to choose what client the client may desire or want in their home.
They may have issues getting into their home that supercede anything going on inside the home, such as the number of steps they must climb and the spacing and condition of those steps. They likely lead to a stoop, porch, or landing leading to the entry door. If they cannot get into their home safely and easily, the inside is far less important.
Using a baseball analogy to illustrate the importance of getting started with what the clients need rather than going for a larger job that they may not want or wish to pay for, consider the importance in baseball of getting on base rather than hitting for the fences.
Unless we get on base with a hit or even a walk, there’s no way that we can continue around the base path and eventually score a run. If we attempt to hit a home run and strike out, or if we attempt to hit a home run and fly out to one of the fielders, then the scoring attempt is over. It’s much better to hit the ball where the fielders aren’t and get on base. In the long run, a player who can do this is much more valuable to their team than one who can hit the long ball.
When we look at aging place renovations, we can’t make any impact for our clients if they don’t give us the chance. By the same baseball analogy, if we attempt to do too many things or make too many changes, our budget is necessarily going to be high to reflect all of those changes. We may get shut out, and they may not be interested at all while. Thus, we might lose the potential income and business, but our potential clients will be the big loser. If we can’t serve the public by at least getting on first base by making an improvement for them regardless of how small it is, then we have failed them.
Improvements can be so minor and seemingly insignificant as changing out incandescent bulbs or CFL bulbs with LED ones or adding a single lever faucet in the kitchen in place of the dual lever faucets that are likely there now. It could be replacing old worn out and harder to use toggle light switches with rocker light switches. There just are many things that can be done that will apply to basically any home that currently does not have them rather than going for a much more comprehensive modification.
The client may a need for a grander approach, but their budget may not match. Swinging for the fences may not allow us to help as many people. Some can benefit from and budget for large improvements. Others cannot. There are no right or wrong solutions or textbook approaches or standards to achieve. We just want to help people remain in their homes so let’s get that hit to get on base and then we can go from there. Let’s not take such a big cut at the ball that we strike out and end up not helping our clients by having them decline our services