As we get older, our bodies undergo a variety of changes that can make daily tasks more challenging to perform. Dexterity involving fine precision grip and hand strength deteriorates with age, and can affect simple everyday tasks, such as the turning of standard round door knobs.
If you are preparing your home for aging-in-place, your doors are a good place to start with. How can you make your doors senior-friendly?
Ideally, any flooring in your accessible home should be completely leveled out. In case that is not possible, that is where threshold ramps come in, providing a simple, cheap and effective solution.
Threshold ramps can help you easily navigate through uneven thresholds, door frames, landings and curbs, and are especially useful for the safety of wheelchair, walker or scooter users.
Most threshold ramps are made from durable, slip-resistant material and usually come in a set of separate pieces (increasing in ½” increments). This allows you to easily create and install a ramp ranging from roughly 1” to 3”, which can suit any doorway in a standard home.
They offer a slight, steady incline that meets national slope guidelines and are very helpful for people who rely on a mobility aid or have reduced mobility.
Price starts at around $75 and they are very simple to install.
Offset hinges, also known as swing clear or swing-away hinges, allows you to maximize your potential doorway space.
An open doorway should provide at least 32” of clear space, although 34-36” is ideal for anyone using a mobility aid. If your doorways are slightly under these recommendations, offset hinges provide a simple and cost-effective solution in making your doorways senior-friendly.
Offset hinges are different from regular hinges in that it allows a door to swing completely out of the person’s path through the open doorway. With offset hinges, you can widen your doorway by as much as 2” without having to undertake any major structural changes to your home.
Offset hinges are available in hardwares and price starts at around $30.
Many seniors and even young kids struggle to manipulate door handles as they lack the dexterity and control to twist or turn traditional rounded knobs. Conditions such as arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, peripheral neuropathy or ganglion cysts can intensify these difficulties. Wheelchair users, who have to open a door from a seated position, can also find this task extra challenging.
Lever-style handles are a simple way to address these issues. They can be installed on any traditional push/pull door and can be combined with a lock fixture for extra security on external doors. Make sure to avoid any handles that require you to push down a latch with your thumb, as they may prove difficult to use for people with limited hand strength.
Vancouver’s amended building code banned the traditional round door knobs in March 2014, stating that level door handles should be used, instead. To ensure that handles, latches, pulls and locks are easily accessible to everyone, they should be placed within 34 inches (865mm) to 48 inches (1220mm) above the floor or ground.
Installing lever-style handles is extremely simple and can be done by almost any amateur handyman/woman. However, don’t be afraid to ask for your help, as needed. Prices for lever door handles with locks start at around $25.
Automatic door openers are a great investment if you or anyone in your home has mobility issues or is reliant on a mobility aid. They allow you to unlatch, open and lock a door at the touch of a button.
While these systems can be expensive (ranging from $2,000 to $2,500), they are extremely useful for seniors who struggle to manipulate a door or who are bound to a wheelchair.
While there are various models available on the market, the Open Sesame Residential Package is a great wireless system that comes with a variety of features, including a high-powered remote, smooth operation, and much more.
Some modern automatic door opener systems come with a software that can be synced into your smartphone. The app will then send alerts whenever someone enters or exits your home.
For your security, you may consider adding the following also:
An accessible door welcomes everyone, regardless of age or abilities. Of course, it should also serve to keep out unwanted guests from your home, as well as keep your loved ones safe inside.
Your door creates a first impression for your home- and your ideal door should combine a design that reflects your personality or taste and your and your loved ones’ safety and accessibility needs
For more information on how to create an accessible home in the British Columbia region, contact Home2stay, your local certified Aging-in-Place specialists today. We are Canadian-owned and operated.
We’re always here to help.
Mia Chua is an offshore team member of Home2stay, managing marketing, content creation and assisting with overall operations. Accessibility and inclusivity are global issues, and she has big dreams to someday bring what she learns from Home2stay to influence positive changes to her own country across the globe.
Prior to joining Home2stay, she worked in operations and marketing in the real estate and fast-moving consumer goods industries.
Her interests include picking up new skills, cooking and baking, health and wellness, technology and social issues.