by Raad Ghantous on October 23, 2009 in Aging in Place, Contributing Writers
“Holidays are coming, holidays are coming, holidays are coming … watch out, look around, something’s coming, coming to town, coming to your town, holidays are coming, something magical, can you see it shining bright? Tis the season …” These are the lyrics from Coca Cola’s famous “Holidays are Coming” advertising that has been around for decades and usually runs to announce the soon to arrive holiday season.
Here we are again at the beginning of another such season, with Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas on the doorstep. A time for family and friends to visit and share the warmth of the season together – that is assuming our homes are “visit-able.” Visit-ability, a trend that has been gaining more and more support starting in the mid-80s is a movement/philosophy that seeks to insure that all homes are at least partially accessible to people with mobility impairments, even though those in fact might not be the owners of the homes but rather occasional visitors. The importance of this simple philosophy can be seen even more when one realizes that America’s 50-plus population is likely to exceed 100 million by 2010. Ten thousand people will reach the age of 50 every single day and this 50-plus consumer base will account for more than one-quarter of all new home sales in the future. One can argue that making a home visit-able may even have a direct positive impact on its resale ability.
In fact, back in 2006 the National Association of Home Builders stated that “Our visiting parents aren’t getting any younger (and neither are we). Visit-ability in entry doors, barrier-free showers and non-stoop dishwashers show buyers you care” were in their list of emerging trends. Visit-ability modifications also make homes easier for people who might develop mobility limitations to still visit friends and family, rather than have to turn down invitations or not be invited at all. Therefore, visit-ability can even act as a first step towards a fully universally-designed home.
These features provide basic universal access and allow currently able-bodied people to remain in their homes if they do in fact develop a disability, and as such to start to age-in-place, rather than to be forced to do expensive renovations, relocate to a different house, live in an inaccessible home which endangers their health and safety, or move from the community they love and feel safe and oriented in into a care facility prematurely. Many of us baby boomers are also taking care of parents, and parents are visiting their children’s homes or living with us even now, so maybe we should look at the upcoming holiday season as a magical opportunity to prepare our homes to match the warmth of our hospitality through their visit-ability.
So how do we go about making these necessary changes to be able to entertain our families regardless of their individual impairments you ask? Well, some of these modifications can be temporary and barely cost you any money at all.
We’ll cover some of these specific in Part Two.
About the Author: Raad Ghantous is the principal of Raad Ghantous & Associates and is an expert in luxury hospitality, wellness centers, and medical & day spa developments. He is also the owner of Your Home For A Lifetime, an A.D.A/ Barrier-free/ Universal design/Aging in place, full service design/build firm with over 15 years of experience specializing in developing integrating elegant and seamless designs/modifications to new or existing structures.