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The Freedom of Universal Design

Think about the peace of mind you have with knowing you are safe at home. It improves your quality of life which in turn improves your physical health. Aging in place, which the CDC defines as “the ability to live in one's own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.” Studies have shown that aging in place increases life span and overall quality of life. Universal design is one tool that can allow people to age in place.

Universal design is the concept of designing a building or residence to fit the needs of any person in any given physical state. It allows someone to continue using their home with ease and decreases the risk of injury or the barriers caused by old age or physical disability. Here are a few examples.

Wide Hallways:

Homeowners typically like to maximize the square footage in their living spaces, but don’t underestimate the value of wide hallways. Imagine the luxury of personal space as you pass by your partner/child/pet through an adequately sized hallway. Maybe you had a leg injury or had to use a wheelchair, now that luxury becomes a necessity. Wide hallways can benefit anybody of any physical ability.

Lever Handles:

Nothing beats the ease of opening a door with a lever handle. This is by far the easiest and least expensive way to make universal design a part of your life, even my dog can open our back door with the lever. The difference between the lever and a knob might not seem very significant, but having a lever handle can make a world of difference for opening doors. Whether it’s an injury, arthritis, or your hands are full of groceries, a lever can be easily operated.

Zero-Entry Showers:

How is this beautiful shower different from a traditional shower? No climbing into a tub, no curb to trip over in the early morning hours. This design is not only elegant, creating a more spacious feel, but also accessible and more functional. A wheelchair can even roll into this space. A properly designed shower like this, contains and drains the water efficiently, without the use of a curb.

These are just a few examples of universal design that you can incorporate into your home. Universal design is accessible to everyone and makes a space more functional and comfortable. Having a more accessible home will improve productivity and enable the space to be used throughout the lifespan. Now imagine how you could improve your home to better suit yourself years from now.

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