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Growing mobility and home accessibility issues spark innovation

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Updated: 1/25/2013 10:35 am

(BPT) - Driven by a growing senior population, soldiers returning home injured from war and the ongoing obesity epidemic, mobility and home accessibility issues are becoming more commonplace in America. In response, companies today are creating innovative home solutions that focus on both improved form and function, and serve to create welcome alternatives to traditional solutions for homeowners with mobility and home access challenges.

Because many of these new solutions are designed to blend into one's everyday life and complement nearly any style, the functional benefits they provide can be easy to miss. The home improvement experts at Lowe's offer tips to enhance the look and accessibility of nearly any home.

Looks do matter

Traditional aluminum ramps may be functional, but they hardly blend into the overall look or style of a home. In the past, the only way to achieve a stylish and custom look was with a specially designed and constructed wood ramp, but Lowe's has developed a solution that makes a custom look easier to achieve and install.

'Lowe's designed a unique access ramp solution that combines the look of a custom-built wood deck with the easy installation of an aluminum modular ramp,' says Patricia Moore, a world-renowned gerontologist and designer. 'The new ramp allows professionals and do-it-yourselfers to install the system in less time than a custom wood ramp and within virtually any budget, given it's configurable shape and multitude of decking and railing accessory options.'

Lowe's Gatehouse Custom Access Ramp System allows professionals and do-it-yourselfers to install the system in less time than a custom wood ramp, and the modular ramp can be configured with right, left or u-turns to fit the accessibility needs of users and the style of the home. Coordinating caps, balusters, post sleeves and railings give the system a pleasing, custom look. The system also allows owners to remove, relocate and reuse the ramp if they move to a different home.

Homeowners considering a ramp can visit www.lowes.com/ramps to use an online configuration tool that allows them to 'play architect' and custom-design their own ramp. Customers can also visit their local store or call 1-800-GO-LOWES for assistance in product selection, purchase and to schedule a free, in-home consultation.

Function hidden in plain sight

Once only found in public buildings such as offices and schools, lever-style door handles have become a standard option for residential homes. But it's not just the look of these handles that makes them a desirable alternative to standard knobs - it's the function. Lever-style handles are easier to grip than standard doorknobs making them a preferred alternative for anyone that's ever tried to grip a standard knob from a seated position in a wheelchair, while juggling an armful of groceries, or while suffering from arthritis.

Delta has taken things one step further with the introduction of touch faucets that feature classic designs with updated technology to make turning water on and off more effortless than ever before.

Small spaces, big innovations

Most in-home falls occur in the bathroom and, especially amongst the elderly, are one of the leading causes of hospitalization. At the same time, bathrooms tend to be the smallest rooms in a home making these spaces especially challenging to navigate for those with mobility challenges. With these challenges in mind, bathrooms have become an especially rich area of innovation in recent years.

The emergence of multi-functional and fully integrated solutions leads the trend in bathroom accessibility improvements. One of the simplest solutions has been the introduction of 'chair height' toilets, which, because of their higher bowl height versus standard toilets, provide better leverage when standing from a seated position. Grab bars are also evolving to include designs that seamlessly integrate two products into one stylish solution, such as Moen's grab bars that dually function as a towel rack or toilet paper holder.

Standard tubs and vanities, which tend to create barriers to use for those with mobility issues, have gotten their share of attention too. Wall-mounted sinks, which can be accessed from a seated position, have benefitted from style updates and easier installation than past models. Retrofitting tubs to create easier-to-access shower enclosures has also become simpler with new innovations in factory-installed shower seats, grab bars and shower valves.

Home accessibility improvements can help you enjoy your home safely for as long as possible and new products and solutions are making accessibility easier to enjoy than ever before. For more information on home accessibility, checklists, how-to projects, articles and tips, visit Lowes.com/AccessibleHome.

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