Several months back, a client in Rhode Island asked if he really needed a grab bar in the bathroom. He hated the way they looked and he thought that they would not match his new polished chrome plumbing fixtures with the overhead rain shower. So I asked him how important safety was in the home. He said that he intended to have a state-of-the-art, built-in security system installed as the home was being built. So I began to explain that safety and security goes well beyond an alarm system and that certain features like a curb-less shower and a level threshold at the main entry might help prevent accidents but just as important, would provide the opportunity to return home early from a hospital stay if something were to happen such as breaking a leg or hip.
He said, "Yes, I can see that might be but it's just the thought of other people seeing a bar in my bathroom and thinking that I am disabled." So I replied easily, "This is really about providing you with a measure of personal independence and not about what others may think about you." Then I reassured him that these concepts about aging in place are not a trend not a fad....and would raise the value and quality of life as we mature. By adding certain features in the design of our homes provides us with the opportunity to maintain our personal independence.... something that none of us would want to give up at any age or ability.
So I offered him creative design solutions including a great looking "grab bar" in a snazzy polished chrome finish that would provide the aesthetics he was really asking for but also he knew that in his heart, at 86 years young, he would be able to hang on to something in difficult times. And that something was his independence.
He passed away not too long ago but not after being in a place of his choosing for as long as he was able. We worked so well together in the design of his home and was excited to be able to move into it. He used that shower without a curb and even told me how great it was not to have to lift and step over that barrier. He told me he grabbed onto that grab bar every day because it made sense to hang onto something standing on a wet shower floor. And the last time we talked, he told me to make sure to tell others and have them see the value of having a home that supports one's independence. And with this blog post, I have done what he told me to do. Tell others.
Michael is an award winning interior designer based in Palm Desert, CA. He is a Professional Member of the American Society of Interior Designers and a member of the ASID College of Fellows.
As a Certified Aging In Place Specialist, he creates smart looking spaces that are safe and secure and create homes for a lifetime.
And with thirty plus years in the profession, he has honed his humor, elevated his passion for design and sharpened his wit to not take anything too seriously except his design work.