You and your home

Aging gracefully together

Aging gracefully is all about taking a proactive approach to your future well-being - you anticipate the inevitable changes and do what's necessary to stay healthy and fit.

The same principles are true for your home. You need to assess the necessary changes that must be made around your home to keep it fit, and you safe, so you and your home can successfully age together.

Helping your home age gracefully doesn't mean adding industrial-looking apparatuses throughout the house. In fact, with Lowe's Accessible Home program, you'll never have to sacrifice style for function. Plus, if you do these projects proactively, you'll save money in the long run.

Julie Sussman and Stephanie Glakas-Tenet, authors of the national bestselling "Dare to Repair" series of books, provide you with some can-do projects to make your home more accessible for everyday living.

* Safety in a shower/tub -- A handheld shower unit is a perfect solution for anyone who has to sit while showering. Use a plumber's wrench or an adjustable wrench to remove the old shower head; if difficult to remove, apply lubricating spray. Remove any residue from threads on shower arm. Apply Teflon tape to threads, wrapping it counterclockwise, three or four times. Place hose of new shower unit onto end of shower arm, turning it clockwise. Insert hand shower into the shower arm mount, rotating it to desired spot. Use adjustable wrench to tighten. Handheld shower units now come in a variety of finishes and sizes sure to spruce up anyone's shower.

* Getting a better handle on knobs - For anyone who suffers from arthritis, a lever handle is much easier on the joints than a knob. Plus, lever handles can dress up the plainest of doors. Use a screwdriver to remove the screws on the old doorknob. Insert stems of exterior lever horizontally into the holes in the latch case. Place interior lever on the protruding spindle, aligning stems with screw holes. Insert screws and tighten with screwdriver.

* Avoiding slips - If you can't bear the sight of a bare floor and don't want to remove the beautiful rugs in your home, you must properly secure all of them. All rugs, including doormats, should be secured to the floor with non-skid tape. First, make sure floor surface is clean and dry. Attach tape to underside of rug, flip it over and adhere to floor. Don't forget the bathroom rug.

* Preventing falls - A stair handrail is designed to aid in ascending and descending stairs. But, why stop at having only one handrail per stairway? Make each stairway more symmetrical and safe by having a second one installed. Also, be sure to check all handrails in the home for any that wiggle. Use a screwdriver to tighten any loose screws. Make sure there is adequate lighting at the top and bottom of each staircase.

* Providing stability - Today's shower grab bar is not your father's (or hospital's) grab bar. The choices in style, size, color and installation will make you wonder why you waited this long to have one. To install a grab bar, you'll need a drill, the proper drill bits and the right grab bar. It's easy to install, just be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions completely.

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