15 Mar

Universal Design – Alzheimer’s

General Contractor Ben Becker of BLB Custom Building is a Universal Design Certified Professional (UDCP), completing his certification through the National Association of Remodeling Industry (NARI) in 2017. By incorporating universal design methods and techniques into remodeling and building plans, BLB is able to create accessible spaces for families looking to age-in-place or families with special needs.


NARI’s 7 Principles of Universal Design:

  1. Design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.
  2. Design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
  3. Use of design is easy to understand regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.
  4. Design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities.
  5. Design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.
  6. Design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue.
  7. Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of the user’s body size, posture or mobility.


The Alzheimer’s Caregiver organization has teamed with BLB Custom Building to put a spotlight on how to prepare your home for an aging relative with Alzheimer’s. The below article features guest author Lydia Chan of the Alzheime’rs Caregiver organization.


Image via Pixabay, provided by Lydia Chan


How to Prep Your Home for an Aging Relative with Alzheimer’s

by Lydia Chan, Alzheimers Caregiver


According to the AARP, 16% of adults in the United States live in a multi-generational household. A significant portion of these are aging parents with cognitive disorders moving in with adult children. Here are some tips on prepping your home for this scenario. Many of these preparations can be made well in advance of your new living arrangements. With a little foresight, diligence, and common sense, you, and your entire family, can live safely and harmoniously together.


Evaluate your environment. Before moving your aging relative into your home, take a walk around the house, both indoors and out. Pay special attention to areas that could pose a threat to someone with mobility or cognitive impairments. The garage, swimming pool, and deck should be secure and inaccessible without a key.


Be prepared for emergency situations. The Alzheimer’s Association suggests keeping a list of emergency services handy. This includes poison control and police and fire departments. You should also keep your relative’s primary care physician’s contact information programmed into your phone. Always keep an emergency first aid kit on each level of the home. Adding a medical alert system to the home may give you added peace of mind if the senior will be left alone.


Remove falling hazards. Nearly 90% of broken bones in elderly individuals are due to falling accidents. Many of these are sustained by encountering unseen hazards in dimly lit rooms and hallways. You can help prevent these types of injuries by installing handrails and lights in the hallway and on staircases. Strip lighting in the kitchen and bath will add illumination to these areas. Consider a motion light in the bedroom, which will automatically turn on if the senior gets out of bed. Remove area rugs and designate a spot for young children to keep toys. 


Consider accessibility at the front door. Assisted Living Today explains that exterior stairs can be a challenge for seniors unsteady on their feet. Installing a wheelchair-accessible ramp at the front door is a good idea even for seniors who still have the ability to walk on their own. Many seniors with Alzheimer’s have coexisting mobility or spatial issues that can make navigating stairs or uneven thresholds unsafe.


Watch for safety hazards in the kitchen and bathroom. The kitchen and bath are two of the most dangerous rooms for older Americans and are the areas you must pay most attention to when preparing your home for an Alzheimer’s patient. Consider issues such as uneven flooring, which could throw your loved one off balance. Safety in these two rooms are paramount to the senior’s well-being.


Create a private space for yourself, your aging parent, and your own children. Moving an extended family member into your home isn’t just a change in their lifestyle, it affects your and the members of your family as well. And as much as your teenage daughter may love her grandmother, she may need her own space and privacy. 


Support your loved one’s independent abilities. Depending on how far into the disease your loved one may be, he/she may still have plenty of lucidity. Ensure that your home is safe, but not so restricted they are unable to pursue their passions and set and accomplish goals for themselves. Psychology Today explains that having a little bit of independence will encourage feelings of usefulness, an important part of staving off depression.