Monday, January 30, 2017

Aging in Your House

My apologies for the lack of fun posts lately. Not to get political in a place where I have always kept my political leanings off the page, but things are a bit of a mess here in the U.S. and it has really cast a pall on my fun-o-meter.

So for today, we'll just shoot for a practical post.

I don't think of myself as old, but I'm getting there. Isn't everyone?  (Please say yes). So, while we're still young enough to do the work, we've started thinking about ways to make our two-story house one where we can age in place. One of the head-scratchers was the railing in our hallway staircase. We have pie-shaped stairs at the top of the stairs, and the rail doesn't go all the way up, because of the setup of the area (there's a window on the side where a rail makes the most sense, so...there's no place to put a rail there). We've lived here many years, and it's never been a problem. It's not a problem now, but down the road it most definitely will be. We debated ways to put that rail around the window (moving the window? Ugh, expensive, difficult and it would mean raising the window, making it less useful). Finally, we settled on a long grab bar, the type often seen in bathrooms, but placed vertically at the top of the stairs. Within a few minutes of installing it, I'm already wondering how I lived without it all these years. (By the way, the weird green tape in the last image is from when we were discussing where a railing really should be. I took it down this morning).

hallway grab bar

hallway grab bar

hallway grab bar

Next, I'm going to tackle a way to get the laundry downstairs more easily. I have a number of laundry baskets, but they require two hands (so I can't use that new grab bar or the railing). I'm thinking of one of those laundry packs with shoulder straps.

laundry backpack

laundry backpack

laundry backpack

Wish me luck!

Take care,



Laney4 said...

Good idea re the vertical railing! I remember when my mom needed a railing going up our five steps in our split-level home. We installed it in 1994 and she died in 1995. Since then, *I* have been the one who has appreciated it (and the longer railing we added to the basement at the same time) and, like you, wonder how *I* ever lived without it. When my husband broke his hip socket last August (it's been that long?), the railings were Godsends - for both of us, as he could hold the railing while I helped him on the other side - and he didn't "take me out" if he lost his balance, LOL.

As for laundry, why not just put it in a big bag with a non-ripping handle so you can hold it in the opposite hand to the railing? Perhaps a big green garbage bag with the drawstring. Yeah, it could probably be put over your shoulder (too), but I would be concerned about the laundry bag on my back, as I think it would throw your sense of balance out of whack (and be awkward) on steps. The bag could even be rolled down the steps like a slinky if you wanted (although that wouldn't work for the way back up the steps, LOL). For going back upstairs, I wouldn't want the clothes all "smushed up", so I'd probably carry them up in smaller piles instead.

You've made me wonder how other people do this. I've never given it a thought for myself, as I have hip-hugger laundry baskets (where the two long sides are roundly indented to make room for your hips) so could technically put it on my hip and hold the railing with the other arm - as long as the basket wasn't filled to the brim (as it might require two trips). Is your staircase wide enough to do this instead? Seems much easier, less awkward, and would keep the clothes neatly folded.

Myrna Mackenzie said...

Good idea on the bag! I do have a hip hugger basket, but for me, it's still a bit difficult and awkward to grasp it while holding the rail on the way down. I have heard of people who just toss their laundry down the stairs and pick it up at the bottom, but since I'd have to pick it up at the bottom of the stairs leading to the first floor and then go through this process again at the basement stairs (after walking through 3 rooms to get to the basement stairs), that seems a bit inefficient. I always find going up much easier than going down, so I think the bag would work for the trip down and the basket would be fine for the trip up. Thanks!