Note: This feature appeared in the March 2021 issue of Centerville-Washington Neighbors Magazine, which is mailed monthly to 3,661 homes in the community.
By Jeff Louderback
Even when he could occasionally walk with the assistance of braces and crutches, Jim Barone knew the day would arrive when he would exclusively be in a wheelchair. Recognizing this, he and his wife took a proactive approach, 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. The 71-year-old 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, Inc., 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.”
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.”
Around 90% 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.
Remodeling Designs has evolved into one of the most renowned full service design/build companies in southwest Ohio. Erich Eggers founded the company. His daughter and son-in-law, Christine and Mark Balsan, are co-owners.
“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,” Christine said. “They can be decorative and feature different finishes.”
For the Barones, the remodeling investment not only provides convenience for Jim, but also offers peace of mind for the present and the future.
“Home is where the heart is. Most of us are comfortable in routines at our home and in our neighborhood,” Jim 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.”
For more information about Remodeling Designs, visit www.remodelingdesigns.com.