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Home / Family / Elder Care

Ten Convenience Built-Ins Thatíll Help Seniors And The Disabled Live Independently

By:Carol Abrahamson

Planning to remodel, repair or build a new home? Looking for some innovative, unusual ó but powerful ó universal design features? We can help! We started collecting over 1,000 uncommon, affordable convenience built-ins in 1998, when we first began writing books and consulting to help people have truly extraordinary ó but affordable ó homes. Here are some of our favorite ideas thatíll change your life via how they enable independent living. Add any of these to your next project, and youíll be on your way toward creating a home thatís truly beyond the ordinary!

ē Motion-sensor faucets. These are especially handy where hands will often be dirty or full. They also deliver water at a preset temperature that kids or slow-to-react family members may appreciate. No more risk of getting scalded!

ē A single-lever faucet control, for ease in adjusting water flow and temperature with one hand. (Itís especially inconvenient to have two-fisted, separate hot and cold controls at the kitchen sink.) This can help you reduce wasted hot water, can be visually marked so family members know where to position it for safe hot water temperatures, and is easy to use after arthritis has started to affect your fingers and hands.

ē A central vacuum system. Its parts are not as heavy to push as most freestanding vacuum cleaners.

ē A garbage disposal activated by a pressure-button switch thatís inches away from the faucet, so itís accessible without your bending to open a cabinet or walking several steps to flip a switch.

ē Well-planned task and reading lighting that doesnít create shadows. Donít forget lights that illuminate countertops or are mounted under upper cabinets.

ē Lots of electrical outlets for your holiday decorations, both indoors and outside, so everything plugs in nearby. No point in having the confusion or hazards of extension cords, powerstrips or overloaded circuits.

ē Magnetic drawer and cabinet locks that release and latch via a single remote-control button that controls an entire room or outdoor area. This is the least awkward and most secure type of childproof lock weíve seen, especially if you mount the control unit high on a wall where adults can easily see and reach it while kids cannot. Grandparents with arthritis will especially applaud this system, compared to the common plastic door locks that require considerable dexterity to release. (These magnetic locks also secure drawers or cabinets in overnight guestrooms that you use when your guests are gone, or in any rental properties you own and store some possessions in.)

ē Wall-mounted intercoms in every room and outdoor living area (donít forget the garage), for talking to anyone on your property without having to physically walk over to them. This also eliminates using what might be dirty or full hands to dial and hold a cell phone you might use to call people elsewhere in the house.

ē A light switch or knee-level motion sensor at the top and bottom of every stairway that controls adequate lighting from above. Motion sensors are especially handy wherever your hands are often too full to easily reach for a switch. That light from above is more important for people with vision problems than light from fixtures that are down at the stair level.

ē A bathroom near the family entrance for quick cleanups for limiting the mess that gets tracked inside when someoneís coming home dirty. Itíll also prevent rushing through the house ó and risking a fall ó when nature calls while youíre working outside or just arriving home.

Like this article? Then youíll love our books chock-full of uncommon, affordable convenience built-ins that increase your quality of life and your homeís resale value! We also offer a free e-book at The 34 ExtraOrdinary Home Principles: Over 70 Fabulous, Affordable, Innovative Ideas Thatíll Improve Your Life and WOW You!

© Copyright 2005 by Carol Abrahamson/ExtraOrdinary Homes. All rights reserved.

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Article keywords: home improvement ideas

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Carol Abrahamson consults, writes and makes presentations about more than 1,000 of these fabulous features that can improve your life, add value to your home and make you the talk of the town. She spent years researching them via thousands of sources just so you can quickly and easily use them to create your affordable, extraordinary Home of Your Dreamsô. Learn more about her work via or

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