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 »  Home  »  Articles  »  Universal Design Articles  »  Ooops - Watch Your Step: Making a Safe, Accessible and Organized Home
Ooops - Watch Your Step: Making a Safe, Accessible and Organized Home
By Alex Cochran | Published  09/24/2006 | Universal Design Articles | Unrated
Ooops - Watch Your Step: Making a Safe, Accessible and Organized Home

Ooops - Watch Your Step: Making a Safe, Accessible and Organized Home
By Susan Fox

Creating an organized and clutter free home environment for the elderly and physically challenged is essential to their comfort and safety. Modifying the home for their specific needs will create a highly functional environment allowing this special population to live independently. Each room of the home needs to be assessed for its challenges.


The more accessible kitchen storage spaces are, the easier it will be to put things away and the less likely clutter will pile up.

  • Adapt shelves in closets and pantries for easy viewing and reach
  • Install sliding baskets and lazy susans in cabinets
  • Remove cabinet doors if they impede access
  • Store everyday items between knee and shoulder height
  • Set up centers for each type of food preparation activity
  • Mount mirrors on the wall behind the stove for viewing cooktop from a seated position

    Living Rooms and Hallways:

    Living rooms and hallways may require some modifications to reduce the ammount of furniture and other clutter that could be a mobility hazard.

  • Rearrange furnishings to clear walking areas
  • Use low pile carpet for ease of movement or wheelchair movements
  • Eliminated throw rugs
  • Lower thresholds between rooms to accomodate flooring changes
  • Use open storage baskets near activity areas
  • Remove clutter and furniture from hallway
  • Install handrails along corridor walls
  • Use 'clappers' or touch lamps to make turning lamps on and off less challenging
  • Replace standard light switches with 'rockers'


    In the bedroom, the major areas where clutter collects are around the bed and in the closet resulting from poorly designed storage.

  • Lower rods and shelving in closets for easy access
  • Use open sheving instead of drawers for folded items
  • Add lighting in closet for greater visibilty
  • Keep a chair in or by the closet to use for assistence while dressing
  • Organize clothing by type and use
  • Keep a small basket at the bedside table for loose items
  • Limit the items on the bedside table to things used daily
  • Keep a phone at the bedside table


    Bathrooms are the most challenging rooms in the house. These changes are essential for ensuring safety.

  • Keep bath products and medicines organized and with easy reach
  • Use a linen closet or shelf storage rather than under sink area
  • Use pill organizers to eliminate any guesswork
  • Remove excess clutter from the shower or bath areas leaving only essential items
  • Use slip mats in the tub or shower
  • Use bath benches
  • Install grab bars in shower, tub and toilet areas
  • Adapt or replace toilets
  • Replace faucets with lever handles
  • Replace shower heads with ones that can be hand held
  • Keep a phone in the bathroom reachable from the floor


    Staying on top of paperwork may seem like a real challenge when mobility is an issue - but an organized system makes things easier.

  • Keep files current with all medical, insurance and financial information
  • Use a color coded filing system for easy retrieval of information
  • Use a summarized document locator, in case of emergency

    These are small changes that can be made for minimal expense. When cost is not an issue, new innovative solutions using universal design are available. Cabinets, cooktops and sinks that can be modified to be height adjustable at the push of a button. Doorway opening can be enlarged to 32" - 36" to accomodate walkers and wheelchairs. The marketplace today offers a tremendous array of poducts to help provide solutions to make independent living easier. These products, combined with simple adjustments in the home, can create a safe, organized and accessible environment.

    For those on medication, pill organizers eliminate the guesswork. Keep an organized filing system in the home with current information on medical and insurance information, financial files on investments. social security and disability benefits. Having this information accessible and organized will expedite its retrieval should an emergency arise.

    Items in a well planned home should be placed in logical locations, making maintenance simple. For those with vision problems, finding things where they are supposed to be is essential for the home to run smoothly and safely. Clothing rods in the closets. placed at reachable heights, will prevent strains from reaching or falls from climbing. Possessions scattered all over the house could cause a fall or make an area of the house completely inaccessible. For this special population, being organized is not only helpful, it can be a lifesaver.

    Susan Fox of Chaos 2 Comfort is a Professional organizer in Atlanta Georgia. Before creating her own professional organizing business, she had been in the business of space planning, design and organizing in the retail sector for 25 years. Her partner at Chaos 2 Comfort, Debbie Schneider, has been involved with older adults both professionally and personally, for more than 20 years.

    Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Susan_Fox


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