janbhan

Planning for disability

janbhan
6 years ago
This is for senior citizens - or those who are still fit and active but want to plan for possible disability.
I have had to modify my home in several ways because I cannot bend post back surgery. So for instance I have a folding stool slotted next to the washing machine to make it easier to load and unload. I sit on a similar stool in the kitchen to load/unload the dishwasher. I recently installed an extra grab rail in the shower. My flat is all one level, but I have had a rail installed at the building entrance.
Have you modified your homes because of advancing age or disability? (The disability could be temporary but requires some aids.) How was this done?

I would really like to know, because while I renovate daughter's new flat I have to consider that I may stay there from time to time. In her present flat there is a bathroom designed for wheelchair use, because her sister-in-law is disabled. However it is not suitable for me because there are no grab rails.... so we will add some. Her own bathroom has a tub. I can't get into it... and there are no grab rails. It was last renovated ten years ago, before any of us had back trouble! She also has back trouble, and grab rails would make it easier for her to get in. Solutions that work in third world countries would be welcome.

This question includes not only bathrooms, but modifications to kitchens (drawers rather than cupboards below the counter, for instance), bedrooms, living rooms, gardens, road access, etc etc.
Not to mention swimming pools, mostly off limits for people who need steps with a hand rail, not a ladder.
Often I would look for simple solutions (wide rubber bands round a door knob to make it easier to turn) rather than something requiring major work, though I know that some changes might have to be major, like widening a door for wheelchair access.

I would also like to know why you made the changes - for yourself, for a relative, or in anticipation of disability in old age or due to progressive disease?

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Comments (228)

  • havingfun
    5 years ago

    the problem gn is that they use those in all the commercial buildings, and yet they often do not work as intended or help otherwise. So their assistance is limiting for the ones with disabilities.

  • janbhan
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    Very few residential buildings are designed with any kind of disability in mind. Most bathrooms are so small, there is little scope for redesigning them, even if you can gut them and start over. .

    I looked at my kitchen cabinets and feel there isn't place for even a slim grab rail. But it could be designed in if you are refitting. I suspect it would then become a handy parking space for towels etc.

    Part of the planning process is looking at the present situation and working out how to use what you have. For minor disability this is probably enough. For my Pune kitchen which is extremely basic, I purchased plastic baskets that fit into the shelves under the counter. Otherwise whatever got pushed to the back stayed there because i couldn't reach it. A simple solution that didn't even need a habdyman. But when you require specialised fittings the planning becomes more stringent and the execution could be expensive.

    I really start by looking for cheap and cheerful solutions first. Sometimes that's all you'll ever need.


  • orangecamera
    5 years ago

    My kitchen reno is due to start tomorrow morning! My lower cabinets will have pull-out shelves, and I've replaced my blind-corner upper with a corner cabinet that has a lazy susan. These things cost more than I wanted to spend, but I don't have great range of motion so they're a necessity. I can't wait to be able to reach everything.

    It was funny emptying out my current cabinets so they can be removed. There was stuff shoved all the way in the back that I'd forgotten about, and I've only lived here 3 years!


  • chookchook2
    5 years ago

    Orange you can get a pull down metal basket for upper cabinets, too. Handy for frequently used items.

  • orangecamera
    5 years ago

    Thanks chookchook! I'll have to keep my eyes open for those :)

  • chookchook2
    5 years ago

    The solid ones are not terribly cheap, but you would use it every day, it would enable you to keep things in cabinet instead of out on the counter like many disabled have to.

  • marjie1059
    5 years ago

    having, forgive me, but I did laugh at the tortoise in the planter story. I am assuming that she was not hurt, except her dignity. Did you say earlier how many siblings you have? It sounds like you are not all on the same page regarding her care. I don't understand about family wanting her to sell her home. (How old is your mom?) My mom did not want one of the medical alerts, either--it would feel like she was in prison, it would be uncomfortable, etc. She has fallen and had to use it a few times when she couldn't reach the phone and needed to contact me to come over and get her back up again (sort of like a beetle on its back--not too far removed from the tortoise in the planter). There are very few complaints, now that she sees how useful it is. I rest easier as well, knowing she has more options in an emergency. (If she falls and hits her head and knocks herself unconscious--well, the alert won't help that, but neither will me worrying myself silly about it.)

    She also didn't want a home security system, but my ex-policeman BIL kept harping on it every time he saw her, which was a few times a year. She finally got one, complaining about the exorbitant cost, etc., but now finds great comfort in knowing it is in place. And it is another reason for me to rest easier as well. Both the home security and medical alert really help ease the minds of my out-of-town/state siblings.

  • havingfun
    5 years ago

    no, I said we laughed too. she was not hurt seriously, a few bruises, but she does that easily. She is 78. There is my sister, who rarely has time and now has the one with nerve pain (darn brain). And my son is down there. I tried to get him to go help with her roof, it keeps leaking in the places it joins (another brain burp I know these things). He told her she needed to sell up and move somewhere less expensive and newer, he isn't going to be there forever. he then told me I needed to move there. I just said he is clueless about what he is saying. Funny thing, she loves me, cause she feels she must, even though deep down she hates me for some reason. Yet the only people who care for her are me-a million miles away and disabled, and her exhusband-probably the only decent thing I can say about the man. The daughter she always adored, has little time for her. And my son whom we both adored has little time for anyone. Ahh - I remembered, my sister now has Fibromyalgia, so yes, it is all hard for her now, since she is still working. But she has never been attentive anyway. it is like i left and it all fell apart, though none thought I was important. Clueless, that is what I am so, I will help where i can and be happy I am not there. Much more fun here, then there.

  • janbhan
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    It is hard when you try to help someone like a parent, only to find it backfiring. When my mother needed more help two things happened. First she did not want anyone living with her thank you. Secondly, I was recently widowed, and everyone said, you don't have responsibilities, you could look after her. Except that the first point applied. ... and I didn't particularly want to do anything but try and sort out my husband's estate. And my mother and I had a prickly relationship anyway. I felt that having four brothers and three sisters on the spot while I was seven thousand miles away really let me off the hook, though I was prepared to come for a month or six weeks every year if it would help. I felt guilty, even though I knew I could never be of any help to her.

    So like you, I decided to look after my own little family and be happy. And help wherever I could.

  • marjie1059
    5 years ago

    http://www.lowes.com/pd_310251-1214-4WP18-51-KIT___?productId=3137755&pl=1&Ntt=pantry+cabinets

    This link shows a pantry cupboard that may be more accessible for those with limited mobility. It does lessen the amount of available storage somewhat, but that's better than not accessing it at all. I don't have one, but I thought long and hard about it!


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  • marjie1059
    5 years ago

    Ah, having and jan....I don't know what to say. I feel very guilty, as my sibs and I mostly agree (I think) regarding mom-care. I'm so sorry you have had such troubles. Jan, I understand why people would think you had more time/less responsibilities, but really?! I've never been widowed, but I have watched a sister go through it---exhausting, draining, time-consuming, and everything is painful. I can't imagine parent care at the same time, especially if the relationship isn't rosy. And yes, you would think 7 siblings would get it done. But I know two people from large families (8 and 12 children) who found sibling help scant or nonexistent. One found active opposition and sabotage from a sibling. The other teamed with her sister, they hired help (parents' resources allowed for that, thankfully), and I think the others were glad to not be bothered. That is NOT the way it should be, of course.

    Having, do mom's resources allow for help to be hired, whether for the roof or other things? And is ex- helpful? If he's able and willing and doesn't turn the world upside down, maybe he can help mom? You're right--your place is not really to be the insurance factor, the one who will get it all done. And your mom is not very old, really..Is she willing to ask tired daughter or careless grandson to help, or does she expect you to ask them to help? Or what about neighbors? I wonder what community resources may be in her area as well that she could use. (I understand that "could" and "would" are often not the same thing.)

    Off to get a few winks...I'm rarely up this late--yawn--and really cannot make it any later.In the meantime, just in case it gives you encouragement (plural "you"), I will say that I do pray regularly for those of you on houzz who are facing difficulties. Guess that is each one of us, even though "difficulties" looks different for each reader. God bless.



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  • havingfun
    5 years ago

    Thanks Marjie, I believe Jan is much like me. We are basicly happy souls. It is a shame, about family but it is what it is. We do not state for sympathy, but to be honest and help those who may feel all alone in similar situations. Jan chime in if you disagree. As I stated somewhere, my childhood was pretty rough and I was given a book by a therapist in my 40s, it said not to own it. It must be matter of fact, because none of it is your fault. When you are quiet, you are feeling that in some way it is your fault. So I do not talk about such things all the time. Do not wish to depress anyone, but I am also honest, because nothing I have ever done or can do, can change what was or is.

    No my mom will not ask community, will not ask other daughter. I offer to help, I luckily have majic jack, so I can call a few times a week. together we have fought drs. and gotten her off all the, "at her age.., she is border line...". I have also called on her behalf to agencies etc. She can not get assistance, because she will not sell off the small amount of stock she has so she lives on very little. fortunately, she was raised in a time where she does not need much.we talk a lot. we are great as friends. i just cannot count on her. Before my illness, I tried several times to get her to come up hoping she had mellowed, but nope, she wanted the house and force me to live in extension or attic or basement. So there was room for whole house to be done her way. Share has never been big in her vocabulary. Exe does not provide monetary help, but that could be because she does not ask. He knows what she receives, it is half his soc sec. $750/month plus an additional $100 or less from stocks. But her woman's club answers questions about good roofers and plumbers etc. The current roofer is willing to patch forever, though he has warned that eventually she will have a new roof anyway. She is happy where she is, and really does not want to leave and does not anyone to live with her. My thought is, if she dies that way, at least she will have lived as she wanted, in her own home. And it will never go too long, because I check regularly.

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  • janbhan
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    Having, you do what you can, and that is all you can do. You have your own life too. I gave up almost eight years of my life to caring for my in-laws. It had to be done, but it drained my husband and I emotionally , almost destroyed our marriage, and ended with him dying just six months after his father. Once MIL was gone I took my life back again.

    Marjie, I know all about sibling sabotage. One of my siblings very successfully turned our mother against us and got her to change her will, which didn't hurt anyone but my autistic brother. He could have used the extra cash.

    I don't think we really need to feel guilt for not having half killed ourselves being good children. Our parents chose to have us and raise us, just as we choose to have kids and raise them. But it should not become emotional blackmail, that I raised you and now you have to look after me. Children must make their own way without feeling that they are obliged to care for or their ageing parents. Of course we will do it, but it should be without strings on either side.

    So for those struggling to care for relatives I say, you must have some time for yourself. Siblings should rotate care as far as possible. But if that person is unwilling to be cared for, then you have to leave it to them. It was very hard to get my mother to accept having someone cleaning her house twice a week. It was even harder to get her to wear her panic button. She wasn't wearing it the day she fell in the kitchen and couldn't get up. She lay on the floor for 18 hours with only her dog to keep her watm - because she turned off the heating at night. The neighbour raised the alarm when she didn't see the dog out in the garden. It's a situation I don't like to think about. But she went into hospital, where they found she had had a stroke, so after a couple of weeks she went into a home. My sister told her she was going to a convalescent hotel. I don't know if she believed that, but she seemed happy enough when I visited her. Talked about when she was going home.

    In a way this is part of planning for disability.either you are making changes for the aged p's, or you are making them for yourselves.




  • janbhan
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    Marjie, that is a very interesting cupboard. I think we would call it a Butler cupboard, and I have seen home bars with a similar arrangement.

    For my daughter I have created a pullout pantry, which can be accessed from both sides. It will I think be the best ever. Tall storage top and bottom, and in between storage for smaller items. When they finish putting it together it will post a photo.

  • havingfun
    5 years ago

    yes, i forgot, i copied the cabinet, it is perfect size for me, and provides tons of storage.

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  • marjie1059
    5 years ago

    http://www.menards.com/main/kitchen/cabinet-hardware-accessories/kitchen-cabinet-drawer-organizers/rev-a-shelf-8-7-8-maple-x-tall-pull-out-pantry/p-2425523-c-9350.htm?tid=-81564425779763820


    Jan, did you mean this type of cabinet? I have a pullout spice rack as a lower cabinet that is one of my very favorite things about the kitchen. I would be concerned about things falling out of the pullout pantry--sometimes they do from the spice rack. But I guess if you don't have heavy jars or cans on the top shelves, that would take care of most of that problem.

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  • havingfun
    5 years ago

    and baby bear said, oh no that one is too tall!

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  • orangecamera
    5 years ago

  • janbhan
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    Marjie, the pullout has wire baskets instead of shelves. So nothing a can fall out. For very small bottles I have given her a shallow spice drawer with adjustable dividers.

  • marjie1059
    5 years ago

    Great idea with the baskets and not shelves.

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  • janbhan
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    It was my contractor's idea. I would have had shelves with guard rails. This was actually simpler to implement. It is looking quite efficient. Stands between the counter and the fridge, so you can access either side, unlike my sister's, which is alongside a wall. But that Is a small room so maybe it works better for her. Even the Butler cabinet would have had guardrails to stop things falling off.

    I saw a very neat idea where the shelves were sliding units. You pulled them to one side to reveal another set of shelves at the back. It was built for a rather shallow pantry and went against the back wall facing the door. Both on the long walls. Either side the door were shelves for things like beer cartons and bottles. One of the best store rooms I have seen. It even had a sink!

  • KD
    5 years ago

    I just need to point out - there are plenty of disabilities where the person might look perfectly able-bodied and not be at all. My mom has cancer but doesn't look 'sick' but her chemo meds make her get exhausted very quickly. I have very bad arthritis that doesn't make me unstable enough to need a mobility device, but does limit how far I can walk and causes me considerable pain. I have a friend who has a balance disorder and can walk fine, but needs the disabled seating on public transit if no other seating is available because she will literally fall over when the vehicle starts moving if she has to stand - she's started carrying a cane just because she got tired of getting hassled about using the disabled seats.

    I think more and more we are having more people with 'invisible' disabilities who can get out and about and do things, and it's conflicting with our general idea of what disabled should look like - so something to keep in mind when you see someone with a placard using a spot who doesn't 'look' disabled.

    Anyway, regarding grab bars - do consult the ADA guidelines, but don't follow them to the letter in your own home as far as where the grab bars are actually mounted. ADA is written to be a general guide to adaptations that suit the largest number of people, which means that it may well not actually be ideal for you. If you can get one, an OT can come into your home and help you figure out where things should be properly placed based on your height and how you move and transfer. But if not, just don't be afraid to adjust the placement a little from what the guidelines call for, in your own home. If you find the bar more comfortable to grab half an inch lower than the guidelines say, put it there. :)

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  • havingfun
    5 years ago

    ok, so where in kitchen would you put grab bars. this is for when you fall and can not get up, already covered rest. apparently ada guidelines are only so good in general since, I see handicapped bathrooms in public buildings all the time, that seem to fit the bill, but are virtually unusable for a wheel chair bound person. Fortunately not my problem. grab bar on lower cabinets is.

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  • chookchook2
    5 years ago

    I also advise using an OT.

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  • KD
    5 years ago

    Like I said, if you have the option of having an OT come in, I'd start there. (Often you have to ask about it, for some reason it doesn't occur to doctors to bring it up as an option, which is dumb. I only know they do home check visits because my mom hurt her knee really badly and the OT in rehab mentioned it in passing.)

    Otherwise, I'd just go about it practically - where do you think you're most likely to fall? Where can you easily get to from that area that would provide a secure mount for a grab bar? (A cabinet door is definitely not going to be secure enough - the body of a cabinet might be, with the right fittings, depending on cabinet construction. The wall should work.) How would you actually move yourself to get up? Where would you want to put your hand to hang on? Do you need another grab bar somewhere else for once you're up part way? Etc.

    Since it can be difficult to test things out yourself when you're disabled, sometimes it can help to get an able-bodied friend or family member to actually act out things for you so you can see if there are any unexpected issues with what you're thinking of doing (like your arm ends up across your body in a way that makes it hard to support yourself, that kind of thing.) Works best with a person who is close to your height, since someone much taller or much shorter will have a very different reach. Just remember to remind them that they are pretending to be YOU, so they can't move in ways that you can't.

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  • chookchook2
    5 years ago

    Can mount one vertically on a door frame.

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  • janbhan
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    Vertical grab bars aren't much good in my view. Not when you are on the floor trying to pull yourself up. And if your hands are weak and painful no grab bar is going to help much unless you can get an 3 low on it, Keep a step stool handy and use it to push yourself up. I must admit I am going to get down on the flooring in my kitchen to see what I can use to get myself up, but I think I'll ask hubby to stay nearby. But only I know how strong I am, or am not, so it is worth figuring out a plan. When I do yoga I have a chair nearby that I can use help me up. I tell you how it works out.

  • KD
    5 years ago

    Vertical grab bars are generally more for balance - like there's a vertical one at the entrance to our downstairs shower to have something to hold onto when stepping over the low edge and between surfaces. Idea isn't to help yourself up, it's to help keep you from falling in the first place. As such, depending on your kitchen layout, you may find you have a spot where you'd like to have one, but it wouldn't be for getting up after a fall purposes.

    Btw, if you just want to work on techniques for getting up from the floor safely, then that is definitely something you can be helped with at a good physical therapy clinic, no having someone come into your house required. If you can afford it (have health insurance, whatever) then I highly recommend it. No one wants to fall, but it can help with anxiety to know that if you do fall, you have a couple of ways of getting up that definitely work.

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  • janbhan
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    Could I ask everyone who has commented on this thread, or has contributed photos, to please post permission to use your comments verbatim or the photos as required? It is taking me too long to get round everyone who contributed! Suddenly realised this might work. Please don't delay. It is much easier for me to copy the permissions when they are fresh! Also I think time is running out. Many thanks Jan.

  • havingfun
    5 years ago

    I fully understand that anything i state on Houzz is fully accessible and usable by anyone in the whole wide world. Although disagreements must reflect all participants, please. Otherwise all is approved. Have fun! Anyone can copy mine if they wish, save thought and effort.

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  • janbhan
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    True, but Houzz rules say that permission must be taken from anyone who posted pictures that I have used, and if I quote you verbatim, not paraphrase, then I need permission to do so. Just so there are no fights later. And this permission is valid only for the year book. If as I plan this thread becomes a manual, then permissions will be taken all over again.

  • orangecamera
    5 years ago

    Jan, can you please explain what the yearbook is? Thanks.

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  • janbhan
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    A collection of articles reflecting the interests of Houzzers this year, I guess. I wrote one based on this thread, but Houzz requires me to get your permission to use photos you posted, and quotes from your posts. You has sent me a picture of non slip socks as I remember.

  • chookchook2
    5 years ago

    Yes, and we will also include poems and art by Houzzers, from this year, if you have any let me know on messages!

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  • chookchook2
    5 years ago

    Havingfun, we are not including any disagreements or unpleasantness.

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  • orangecamera
    5 years ago

    If it's staying just on houzz.com I don't mind my comments being used. If it's off houzz.com, I'd need to think it over.

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  • chookchook2
    5 years ago

    Not going off Houzz, that got voted out.

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  • janbhan
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    Basically I just needed your permission to use the picture of the socks, and your suggestion about using puffy paint.

  • havingfun
    5 years ago

    boy jan, i had to go to the top of the thread to find socks and puffy paint. Forgot all about that! You know how it is expiring mind and mind slippage! tehehe

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  • orangecamera
    5 years ago

    janbhan, you have my permission to use the puffy paint and socks idea. Just be aware that the picture was snagged from the internet, it's not my property.

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  • orangecamera
    5 years ago

    @havingfun:

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  • chookchook2
    5 years ago

    Need to check each one carefully that they really are public domain.

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  • janbhan
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    I would have thought the posters of the images would know the source. I only post my own images.

    Now very with it today. The cold weather has set off the wheezing again and I hate the inhaler, it makes me nauseous. Steam today and stay home.

  • havingfun
    5 years ago

    I think i might be able to help, I am sure that i do not remember everywhere i get things, but i know this much. Almost all my stuff comes from what i copy to houzz. Houzz app will not copy sites that do not allow it. like Behr paints, zippo comes up. I have to use home depot or houzz sites to get the colors. All pics, like my kitty here come from sites marked public domain. I believe once somebody had both and i got confused. Houzz app did not let me copy. The only one i have to finagle with is Dezeen. It is all copyable, but often contains my email, so i have to trace back to original magazine article to eliminate. But magazines have contracts that only fuss if you try to make money from it. just like movie cds. Hope it helps?

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  • orangecamera
    5 years ago

    The picture of the puffy socks came from this url. http://www.hellobee.com/2012/12/19/diy-no-slip-socks/

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  • PRO
    Talianko Design Group, LLC
    5 years ago

    I think you would be best served by a consolation with a professional who deals in aging in place. Why not try the ASID.org site and search for a designer in your area? These are important changes you are considering and can be costly if not executed correctly.

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  • chookchook2
    5 years ago

    Orange camera, my mini iPad is now refusing to download individual images from Google as of yesterday. I have a lot on photos on the device, so I can keep posting memes, but I wonder why it's doing this, not much help online.

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  • janbhan
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    Tsilanko, I would always recommend professional installation where needed. But what I am doing here is suggesting that WHEN you are planning to build or renovate, to consider how your plans will affect you in 20 or 30 years time. Split levels are very hep when you are young. A kitchen 3 steps down at 30 is rarely a problem, but might be a hazard at 60, or, as Marjie1059 suggested, if you break a leg. ...

    All my parents' homes were terrible for old people. They were forced to move to a bungalow in extreme old sge because the location and design of their home was more suitable for an active young couple with a large family than for an elderly couple with stroke disabilities. I would not want to move again, so my present home has features built in that make ageing in place simpler. Mostly small changes, like grab rails, and lever handles on doors and faucets. A major disability suddenly suffered requires major changes if permanent. I did look at this because it came up in the discussion, but if you look at the heading, Planning for Disability, it means just that. Plan ahead so you don't have to make expensive changes later on.

    But thank you for your advice, yes, major changes are not in the DIY domain.