Every day I appreciate your help, from the safety bars in the bath to the chair lift that I use to go downstairs and then to the pool life chair for our daily water activities.
North Bay Biz features home modification and Jonathan's Son
Jonathan's Son was recently featured in NorthBay biz magazine. Below is the article about the importance of age proofing a home. Thanks Northbay biz!
Age proofing a home
While it’s true elders tend to live longer and healthier lives when they’re able to age in place, it’s axiomatic that no one wants to admit they’re less agile than they once were.
Yet no matter how well connected an older adult may be in terms of services and support, their home is only viable if it “ages” well with its inhabitants. Though some seniors chafe at the idea that their independence is being compromised, “age proofing” simply means modifying a home for the greatest degree of livability—just as new parents take every precaution to “baby proof” a home to avoid a potential emergency.
In the case of elders, home modification might mean installing grab bars and non-skid tile in the bathroom to help prevent falls, adding handrails or widening doorways, or installing a removable wheelchair ramp or lower thresholds. All of these features are part of what’s known as universal design, the concept of designing buildings, products and environments to be both aesthetic and usable to the greatest extent possible by everyone, regardless of age or ability.
Paul and Rhonda Harlin of Santa Rosa-based Jonathan’s Son provide personalized solutions to accessibility, mobility and aging in place needs. Paul is a certified aging in place specialist (CAPS) through the National Association of Home Builders, with more than 30 years’ experience as a contractor; Rhonda is a registered nurse with extensive home care expertise. The name of their business, a Biblical reference, reflects the company’s values of honor and respect: for the individual, for their customs, for their home and for their possessions.
The Harlins began focusing on aging in place in the late 1990s after numerous client requests. Rhonda saw the need firsthand during her home visits: “People were having trouble getting in and out of bed, or in and out of the bathtub without help,” she says. “They either had to hire a caregiver, or more often, rely on their spouse for assistance. We were able to come in, do an evaluation, and provide a hoist, a bath lift or whatever other mechanics were necessary to handle the brawn of the process for them.”
In his CAPS training, Paul learned the term “visitability,” which means a person of any ability should be able to visit your home, move through the main level of the house and use at least one bathroom. “Aging in place is the ability to live in the home of your choice, in safety and in joy.”
The biggest hurdle, he agrees, is getting people to “own that our needs and abilities change over time. Think of a stair lift like a central vac,” he suggests. “Wouldn’t that be easier than hauling a heavy vacuum around? Or a washer and dryer versus a washtub. Home modifications are another convenience to make life easier as we get older.”
The key is planning. “When you remodel in your forties, fifties or sixties, think about access. It doesn’t mean the bathroom has to look like it’s for someone with a disability. The look of a level floor is spacious, elegant and also safer for grandkids all the way up to grandpa. A universally designed bathroom will give you more beauty and functionality for the rest of your life.”
And you’ll be prepared. “The worst thing is getting an emergency call for home modification from someone in the hospital who can’t come home until the house is ready,” Paul warns. “It can take eight to 10 weeks for a custom curved stair lift.”
The Harlins are taking their own counsel by installing a deck with a platform lift, a stair lift and a walk-in shower. “I’m 58, Rhonda’s 61. I’d rather have a stair lift in place to haul the laundry up and down, and save my knees to play with my grandkids,” he says.
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