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Universal Design: What Is It and Why You Should Care
Posted By Patti Shea On May 8, 2013 @ 8:52 pm In Caregiving | Comments Disabled
ST. LOUIS — I’ve spent the past two days here attending a conference dedicated solely to Universal Design . Una-what? In spite of what it sounds like, Universal Design isn’t a Carl Saganese approach to designing the cosmos.
The definition of Universal Design, some shorten it to UD, is a process of designing spaces — cities, streets, buildings, homes, rooms – “that enables and empowers a diverse population by improving human performance, health and wellness, and social participation,” according to Edward Steinfeld and Jordana Maisel of the University of Buffalo’s IDEA Center. 
So, why should you care about UD? Well, you’re getting older. Sorry to break the news to you but it’s true. Take a look around your home and determine if you (or your parent) age there easily? Are doorways and hallways wide enough to roll a wheelchair through? Is there a kitchen counter low enough to sit and prepare supper? Are there grab bars installed in the bath or shower? If you answered “No” to any of these, read on.
I’m 41 and am a full-time caregiver  for my parents who live with me in Florida. I can tell you my house is no where ready to have my them live in it. What I learned at this conference is that I’m in the majority of Americans who are getting or will get a huge wake up call when the times comes that you need UD amenities in your home and you’re in no position to install them. So why not do them now?
Here are some things to consider:
OK, so I’ve truncated the list (see resources below) but you get the idea of what you need to do. Understandably, it’s likely you can’t afford a complete renovation of your home but some of the changes are no- or low-cost fixes that can be done by you or your handyman right now.
Article printed from AARP: http://blog.aarp.org
URL to article: http://blog.aarp.org/2013/05/08/universal-design-home-audits-aging-in-place/
URLs in this post:
 Image: http://blog.aarp.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/lca-bathroom.jpg
 Universal Design: http://www.aarp.org/home-garden/home-improvement/info-09-2009/what_is_universal_design.html
 University of Buffalo’s IDEA Center.: http://idea.ap.buffalo.edu/Home/index.asp
 caregiver: http://www.aarp.org/home-family/caregiving/
 Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists: http://www.aarp.org/home-garden/home-improvement/info-03-2004/caps.html
 locator here: http://www.nahb.org/directory.aspx?sectionID=1391&directoryID=188
 multi-generational homes: http://www.aarp.org/home-family/friends-family/info-04-2013/three-generations-household-american-family.html
 lower countertop: http://www.aarp.org/home-garden/home-improvement/info-09-2010/revitalize_your_kitchen_with_universal_design.html
 Fall prevention: http://assets.aarp.org/external_sites/caregiving/checklists/checklist_preventFalls.html
 step-free shower: http://www.aarp.org/home-garden/home-improvement/info-02-2004/bathroom_showers.html
 here: http://www.aarp.org/home-garden/livable-communities/livable_communities_2010/
 AARP’s HomeFit Guide: http://assets.aarp.org/www.aarp.org_/articles/livable_communities/aarp_home_fit_guide_042010.pdf
 UniversalDesign.com: http://www.universaldesign.com/
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