Even when he could occasionally walk with the assistance of braces and crutches, Jim Barone knew the day would arrive when his mobility would be exclusively in a wheelchair. Recognizing this, he took a proactive approach with his wife to retrofitting the bathroom in their Washington Township home to accommodate his needs.
“The house was accessible with a ramp in the garage and a ramp on the deck, but it was a challenge to maneuver my wheelchair through the bathroom door,’ said Jim, who is 71 and was diagnosed with polio in 1954 when he was 5. “I could access everything in the house except for the shower, which was not a roll-in shower.”
The Barones turned to Remodeling Designs, which had completed previous renovation projects at their home, including remodeling the kitchen to remove an island and create more space. This time, the company widened the bathroom doors, added grab bars alongside the toilet and created a specialized shower that permits access from Jim’s wheelchair.
“From polio, I’ve been paralyzed from the waist down since I was a little boy. For years, I walked with braces and crutches,” Jim said. “As I aged, it became more difficult to walk with crutches since they are hard on the shoulders.
“Before the shower renovation, I could lift myself in the shower, but that wasn’t a long-term solution,” Jim added. “When I had my shoulder surgery, I couldn’t walk, so the only way to take a shower was by transferring onto a chair in the bathtub. Now, after the renovation from Remodeling Designs, I can easily access the shower because it was refurbished to fit exactly what I need.”
Jim lost his ability to walk for good after he battled bladder cancer and underwent a long recovery.
“I can’t afford to fall down at my age, so I now use a wheelchair all the time,” Jim said. “I’m thankful we were proactive and had the renovations completed when we did instead of having to make the changes after returning home from the rehabilitation center following cancer.”
Simply put, Jim explained, the upgrades from Remodeling Designs will allow the Barones to make their house a home for a lifetime.
Around 90 percent of American seniors wish to live at home for as long as possible, according to a survey from AARP. A person’s home is the most important place in his or her life, offering a sense of familiarity, comfort, and security.
For many people, the emotional value of home is far more important than its monetary value, especially when they have lived there for 30, 40 or 50 years. Aging in place allows older adults to stay in a familiar and cherished space, and this is a critical part of them sustaining their vitality and quality of life.
Remodeling Designs has evolved into one of the most renowned full-service design/build companies in southwest Ohio. Most projects involve entire homes, kitchens, bathrooms, lower levels and room additions. Each project is assigned a project manager who is a trained professional with CLC (Certified Lead Carpenter) credentials. Erich Eggers founded the company. His daughter, Christine Balsan, and son-in-law, Mark Balsan, are co-owners.
Comfortably aging in place has become a prominent focus among homeowners who are Baby Boomers.
“We frequently remodel for people whose intentions are to remain in their home for as long as possible,” Christine explained. “Comfort and safety are important factors.”
Structural changes may include widening doorways and corridors and eliminating walls to accommodate wheelchairs and scooters, or even creating space in a multistory home to add an elevator later, along with revamping bathrooms to accommodate mobility issues.
“Elements like grab bars are becoming more aesthetically pleasing. They can be decorative and feature different finishes,” Christine said. “Mark and I are in our 30s, and our bathroom is equipped with grab bars. It’s important to make your home safe and comfortable.”
For the Barones, the remodeling investment not only provides convenience for Jim, but it also offers peace of mind for the present and the future.
“Home is no doubt where the heart is. Most of us are comfortable in routines with our lives at our home and in our neighborhood,” he said. “We all age, and it’s inevitable that physical challenges will happen. It’s ideal to prepare ahead of time so you can comfortably remain at home in every chapter of life.”