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You Say You Want a Renovation

Tuesday July 30, 2019

You Say You Want a Renovation

Sharing Parkinson’s-friendly home improvements

 

After fifteen years with Parkinson’s and only fifteen months into a home remodel, I was surprised that the questions are the same.

How long?

How are you holding up?

How’s your marriage?

As when speaking with another person with Parkinson's, fellow homeowners who’ve been through the remodeling process use the very same ‘I get it’ tone. 

But, wait, that shouldn’t be. Parkinson’s is a degenerative condition and warrants an occasional pity party. But a renovation renovates. It transforms, makes us want to throw a party.

Some good ideas and great discussions guided my husband and me (yes, the marriage survived!) through a few sleepless nights and unexpected expenses. The creative thinking and open communication were truly the keys to our now comfortable, stylish features that help with balance, ease of movement and fall-prevention in all areas of our home (especially the kitchen and bath). We even had some good laughs along the way.

Through this series of blog posts, descriptions, pictures and video clips will highlight the ideas and features that we incorporated to solve some issues. It’s my hope that they’ll be helpful.

Needing a Real Solution

To transform a 1970s ranch into a cozy house was daunting. It had minimal insulation, questionable chimneys, sketchy wiring and windows that froze on the inside. And, there was another caveat, a double-header: Our new space needed to be Parkinson’s-friendly, but without looking like it. Aging-in-place smart (degenerating in place somehow doesn’t hold the same ring). Safe, but with style.

While that sounded profound to me, ‘safe, but with style’ contained no detail. Safe from what? And what kind of style? We worked with a few architects. The first created a mansion that not only required a cleaning crew, the increased square footage didn’t match the decreased need for square footage given a) with Parkinson's, I’d rather not have to go to a different zip code to fold the laundry and b) our seventeen-year-old would be moving out likely before the renovation would be completed.

The second architect didn’t get it, either. His drawings were lovely but there were no features that addressed my needs. That’s when I knew that for this project to be successful, some serious forethought was required. To do that meant I had to do more than ooh and ahh at the After pictures on Internet home improvement sites.

 

Planning and Preparation

The initial steps that proved most difficult weren’t about room sizes or deciding what kind of wood for the kitchen cabinets. First and foremost, I needed to fess up to being disabled. Handicapped. In need of solid balance aids, not cute accessories. As if that’s not humbling enough, add the degenerative part: what will I need as the Parkinson's progresses. Though a harsh reality check, the result made for some truly helpful yet unobtrusive features.

The process and a description of needs and solutions I identified are the topics of the next post. Note that it will also include a whole section dedicated to training the contractor about Parkinson’s – hugely worth the investment of time and humility.

Applying the Needs

The following three posts cover the improvements in, first, the kitchen (including the smartest countertop feature ever), second, bathrooms, and third, hallways and secondary rooms. I’ll summarize it all in the end with plenty of pics of this House of Parkinson's. Maybe even throw a party.

Renee Le Verrier, RYTRenee Le Verrier, RYT
NWPF Blogger

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