Continue Reading Independent Living STRATEGY" />

Independent Living STRATEGY

by Louis on November 15, 2007

I created the title Independent Living Strategy because I hoped independent living would describe what I do in a way that is attractive to people. That is opposed to home modifications which is not very catchy.

The strategy part is not random. Another way to say strategy is, ‘more than one way to skin the cat’. This is really important. I don’t walk into a client’s home with answers. I begin every consultation hoping to engage, empower, my client to describe their needs and desires so I can prepare a menu of optional ways to skin the cat. The process involves design solutions, my specialty, but also utilizes tools, equipment, services and caregiving. That comprehensive resource base works with the design to create the strategy.

Lets say the first phase of work, problem identification, charges us to find a bedroom and bathroom the client can reach without having to climb steps. We must make sure they can get in and out of the house. That may be solved by a wood ramp or berm and path no step entry to the front door. It may be solved with a ramp or platform lift in the garage. A paved path, ramp and screened porch in the rear yard may also be a good solution. Each has different costs, impacts, advantages and disadvantages. The front entry means our homeowner can use the front door, but there may be no convenient way to cover the entry from the weather. The garage is a cover but uses a parking space. The rear porch is covered but is the longest path from transportation and enters the rear area with no buffer or foyer for boots and coats.

Now the bedroom and bathroom. We can change use of some ground floor rooms…sleep in the living room and take some of the dining room for a bath. Another approach includes an elevator to the second floor and rearrangement to get maneuvering space and an accessible bathroom. A whole new addition into the sideyard may return the most in resale but cost the most up front. Each strategy solves the problem. Each has pros and cons.

Split levels or split foyers are sometimes the worst candidates for Aging in Place modifications. A few years ago I was nearly stumped when the wife member of my client diad said since her husband had never cooked and took most meals in the family room anyway, “Why do we need to get him to the kitchen level?” We turned some unused space on the ground floor and a half bath into a full bath suite. She would continue to cook and carry food to him as she had been for forty years, even before his neurological illness. The strategy worked and fit their budget.

A recent client lamented that they could not find a one floor house to purchase. I explained that an elevator strategy made more sense in our area because land is expensive. Elevators use less space than a whole floor of rooms. That means less land, less foundation and less roof. Using electricity to get around your house (vertically) is not too different from using a car to move around the suburbs (horizontally) instead of walking to houses more closely packed in the city.

Strategy is important to make sure we consider options, their cost and impact. The process confers the deserved dignity on those making decisions. Independence is about control. Control is a function of making thoughtful decisions. That is my job – empowering people to make decisions – about their home and their life, Independent Living Strategy.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Peter Durkson November 16, 2007 at 6:22 pm


I’m so glad that I’ve discovered your blog!

As a brand new fellow blogger at
I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn from your specific expertise and wisdom.

Now I’ll have to learn all about FEEDS and how to tap into your flow of helpful ideas and links!

Thank you very much,

Peter Durkson


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: