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Weigh Cost and Benefit

September 21, 1997

Having a mother who is 87 years old, I read with great interest the article "Making Homes Safe, Comfortable for Elderly" (Real Estate, Sept. 7). But some of the suggestions are not realistic.

One suggestion was to move the mailbox to the front porch or even put a mail slot in the front door. In any neighborhood where there are curbside mailboxes, the Postal Service will not deliver mail if the mailbox is moved to the house.

Another suggestion was to replace separate hot and cold faucets with a single-lever faucet. This could require the cost of replacing the entire sink or counter if the holes are not sized for a single-lever faucet.

A better idea would be to replace knobbed faucets with old-fashioned cross-handles or lever-handles on modern "washerless" faucets. These operate very easily without being gripped tightly. The lever-handled faucets can even be operated with the back of a hand. (If you are not handicapped, this is still convenient if your hands are real dirty and you do not want to transfer the dirt to the faucet.)

Extra light switches are nice for everyone. But they mean opening the walls to wire them. Raising the height of a bathroom vanity not only impacts any counter-to-ceiling mirror but also creates problems for anyone in a wheelchair.

On the other hand, adding a wheelchair-height sink to a bedroom--back to back with an existing bathroom sink--can enhance the value of a home for everyone, not just for the elderly. For an elderly person who still cherishes his or her independence and lives alone, a shower without a threshold becomes the source of a puddle on the bathroom floor that has to be mopped if you are not going to slip and fall.


Oak Park


Because I am now elderly and disabled, I read the article by Kathy Price-Robinson concerning comfortable housing for the elderly. Though it was an excellent article, I differ on the recommendation to install front door closures that stay locked when closed.

With automatic locks, if you go outside without your key, you are locked out. With a bolt lock you have a key to lock the door and you cannot forget your key. I have also had people unconsciously activate the auto lock when they leave. I have been locked out several times because of that. And the bolt lock offers more security in the case of attempted break-ins.



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