Stay at home safely – strategies for success

Almost everyone would prefer living at home, though thinking of the best ways to accomplish safe and independent living at home can be a challenge.  Fortunately today more than ever there are a variety of options and products that can help you stay in your home.  The greatest challenges can be finding the right products and solutions that truly help you stay independent and safe, while maintaining your home’s aesthetics.

Making a plan

Finding the right solutions and sorting through the numerousproducts available requires making a plan for success.  There are many individuals (builders, remodelers, and medical equipment providers) who claim to be “aging in place specialists” who hold marketing information but lack a true understanding of creating individualized solutions.  Finding the right solution for your independence and safety depends on your own individualized needs and comes best from the perspective of a physical or occupational therapist.

Why is the physical/occupational therapist perspective important?

For any remodeling industry professional who has taken the NAHB – CAPS certification (a brief introduction to the field of home accessibility), the importance of collaborating with an occupational therapist for accessible modifications is of familiar importance.  Creating a plan with an accessibility provider or specialist with background as a physical or occupational therapist makes sense as therapists have an in depth knowledge of the aging process, disabilities, function, and most importantly an understanding of task analysis.  The process of task analysis entails breakdown of functional tasks or activities of daily living into their smaller components.  By gaining a more detailed knowledge of what is required to complete an activity, we gain a better understanding and ability to provide effective solutions.

Considering your home’s limitations

In addition to requirements of the individual we need to look at thelimitations of the home as well.  From this aspect it is important to work with an experienced and qualified remodeler who has an understanding of the structural limitations and requirements of your home or environment.  As with most things in life, a well thought out plan can provide savings in time, money, and in the case of homemods – preserve or enhance the beauty of your home.

Finding the right solutions

It requires the right team to look at the whole picture and find the best solutions for your home.  Common areas that require assistance for accessible modifications include:

  • bathroom accessibility (barrier free showers, grab bars, tub lifts, tub cut outs, and walk in tubs)
  • accessible entry to the home (ramps, porch lifts, automatic dooropeners)
  • managing stairs inside the home (stair lifts, home elevators, dumbwaiters, inclined platform lifts, vertical platform lifts, and mechanical lift devices)
  • independent function in the home (function within the kitchen, independence with transfers, ceiling lifts, door widening, railings and supports).

Planning ahead is well worth it, and incorporating the functional and medical perspective of occupational or physical therapists trained in accessible designs can provide a valuable perspective in finding the best solutions.

This article was written by Rob Horkheimer, MPT, CEAC, CAPS, ECHM, accessibility specialist and owner of BILD (serving Wisconsin and Illinois).  Rob’s Milwaukee based company provides the collaboration of physical and occupational therapists trained in the field of home modifications along with experienced contractors, designers, and elevator/lift specialists who find intelligent solutions for independence and safety in the home.  Visit to learn more about accessible options and opportunities available for home and community.

Leave a Reply