How Would You Design a Caregiving House?


How Would You Design a Caregiving House?


building-plan-354233_640As I've mentioned, I love reality television.

Once in awhile, I'll get hooked on a House Hunters marathon. House Hunters, which airs on HGTV, follows the house hunt of an individual or family. We see the individual or family visit three houses and then sit on the edge of our chairs during a commercial break as we wait to learn which house will be the next home.

A few weeks ago, I watched an episode that had me hopping off the couch, screaming: "Get a single-story house!!!"

The family profiled included a young daughter, a husband who's a doctor and a wife who has MS. The family, who lived in Lake Tahoe, decided to move to Austin, Texas, because the warmer climate would be better for the wife. Because of their large budget, they decided to look for the home of their dreams.

So, they looked at three large houses that each included a master bedroom on the second floor. Oh, this made me crazy!! In my mind, the wife will need more care and will have a difficult time navigating the stairs. I couldn't understand why they couldn't purchase a home of their dreams that was on one story. And, it made me even crazier that the husband is a doctor. "Think ahead, think ahead," I kept thinking.

As you know, when you're in a caregiving role, your environment can make the experience easier or harder. Each year in our annual family caregiver survey, I ask if you've remodeled the house to accommodate your caregiving role. In our most annual family caregiver survey, 48% of respondents said they have remodeled or modified the home. (Note: Look to share your experiences in our 2014 Annual Family Caregiver Survey beginning June 23.)

In the survey, I also ask you to share details of which rooms you remodeled; your responses from our 2013 survey include these answers:

The back 2 bedrooms, living room and kitchen. My grandmother is somewhat of a hoarder and the bedrooms, living room & kitchen were just very messy. The carpet in the living room was torn up and replaced with tile and the kitchen, dining room and hall way was also retiled. We still need to tear up her bedroom carpet and also get rid of stuff that is laying on the floor and the stuff she'd put up that forms a wall between her and her husband. She's not willing to do it so her room stays untouched but is a constant safety hazard to my grandfather.

Lower floor suite for my caree--bedroom, sitting room, partial kitchen, new large bathroom. It has made a huge difference in how much he can still be independent.

Laundry room (widened doors), bathroom (widened doors and replaced toilet/ added bidet seat, improved lighting and flooring throughout. We both enjoy the improvements and understand that they may allow him to remain at home longer as his disease progresses.

The right changes can make a big difference. What if, though, you could start from scratch and design a home that made your caregiving day easier? What would that house look like? Which features and accommodations would you include?

Please share your thoughts about how you would design a house fit for caregiving in our comments section, below.

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