Northshore Magazine

March 2016

Northshore magazine showcases the best that the North Shore of Boston, MA has to offer.

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173 DOOR WIDTHS A 36-inch-wide door can accommodate wheelchairs and walkers. In a pinch, 34 inches will do. REACHABLE CONTROLS Place the light switch, the receptacle, the faucet handle, the drawer pull, and all those other levers within reach of someone sitting. LEVER HANDLES Design faucets so that someone with limited motor skills can operate them. LEVEL THRESHOLDS They allow wheelchairs to pass, and they don't trip walkers, canes, or feet. VISIBILITY Create contrast between switches and walls to make them more visible, reduce glare on surfaces, and create layered lighting that dims. BLOCK WALLS Install blocks in the walls, especially in the bathroom. Should grab bars ever be needed, they can easily be added. Design for Disability In the Bath Medicine cabinet reachable on a lower shelf Adjustable showerhead Roll-in shower of the house? Is the neighborhood walkable, with smooth, well-lighted sidewalks? Is there transportation, in case you can't drive anymore? For 18 years, I delivered Meals on Wheels, where I saw and experi- enced what life is like when you are unable to drive." Especially important to wellbe- ing, Bonneville says, is a connection to nature, an element too often lack- ing on a personal level in assisted- living facilities. In research that Bonneville conducted in Massachusetts, the cost of assisted living is almost always greater than aging at home; a disability requiring round-the- clock skilled nursing care is the one exception. "At the top level of care, assisted living may be less expensive than comparable care provided in the home," Bonneville says. "But most people don't go from fully func- tional to being completely depend- ent or severely disabled, and the money not spent on assisted living, while they stay comfortably at home for 20 or more years, can cover the added costs." In fact, we all accumulate dis- abilities as we age, she points out. "At 40, we need glasses. Hearing loss and gradual loss of range of motion are common as we age. This late phase of life needs to be spotlighted so that it becomes as exciting a plan- ning experience as prior phases like finding a first apartment, moving into a larger space to become a part- ner, adding space to raise a family, reassigning space once children are off on their own, and then simplify- ing space for old age. "These steps can be the impetus to bring people, step by step, to their best homeā€”if the standards of uni- versal design and accessibility are implemented with each revision."

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