Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Devices for safety, comfort now have lots of style, too


Grab bars aren’t just for hospitals and nursing homes anymore.

In fact, lots of products that we’ve traditionally considered “institutional” or necessary only for older folks are turning up in the homes of young families, single women and active baby boomers.

In response, product manufacturers are designing them in styles, finishes and colors that match the trendiest hardware, appliances and fixtures.

Grab bars are a great example. Once available only in shiny, sterile, stainless steel, you can find them now in brushed nickel, oil-rubbed bronze and nearly every color you could want, so they’ll match your bathroom tiles or towels.

Other products that keep us comfortable as we age have gained such universal appeal that manufacturers don’t market them specifically for older consumers. Some examples:

• Front-loading washing machines. Energy- and style-conscious homeowners have gravitated to front-loaders in such great numbers that the old top-loader is practically a relic. But like your dryer, a front-loader requires you to bend to load it. The answer is an optional pedestal to elevate the washer and dryer set by 13 inches.

• French-door refrigerators. You open your refrigerator far more often than your freezer, yet traditional models force you to bend to get to the bottom shelves and vegetable crispers. When you’re ready for a new one, choose a unit with a pull-out freezer drawer on the bottom and French doors on the top that let you see and reach everything without bending.

• Spa-like showers. Adding an oversized showerhead in the style of a rain can and a wall-mounted spray or two on the shower walls leaves you with a pleasant way to massage your body when it’s sore.

• Stand-alone cooktops and wall-mounted ovens. Place the oven high enough to reach into without bending, and choose an induction cooktop that never gets hot, so you don’t have to worry that your kids will burn themselves. As long as you’re replacing your stove, consider a model with knobs or touch controls on the front so you don’t have to reach over hot pots and pans.

• Anti-scald faucets. As we age or develop diseases like diabetes, our skin can become more sensitive to pain. Some new faucets come with built-in anti-scald valves, or you can buy a single valve for the water heater. The bonus: The devices also protect your small children, who also burn more easily.

• Home automation. Like snowbirds who escape Arizona summers by moving East when the mercury rises, anyone who travels or works long hours can appreciate a system that allows you to remotely check one place when you’re at the other. Home automation systems can tell you if you left the oven on, and they can turn up the heat 30 minutes before you arrive, operated via the Internet or phone.

Any of these home improvements will keep you more comfortable as you age. And they’ll add convenience for you, your family and any older relatives.

Rosie Romero has been in the Arizona home-building and remodeling industry for 35 years. He has a radio program from 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays on KNST-AM (790). For more do-it-yourself tips or to contact Romero, go to rosieonthehouse.com or call (888) ROSIE-4-U during the show.




Devices that add safety, comfort come in appealing styles, too

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