The Accessible Home – It’s Not Just for Wheelchair Users Anymore – Blog Talk Radio

The Mary and Melissa Show – radio Interview with Russell Glickman and others.

Here is the link to the actual interview:


“There is no reason why our homes and places of work shouldn’t be built and designed for all people to use and enjoy.  We are joined by Russell Glickman, Founder and Owner of Glickman Design Build LLC, which specializes in accessible, universal, aging-in-place & multi-generational projects.  We will learn why we – at any age and even if we do not have physical limitations – should follow universal design principles.  Also, we are pleased to have with us Mark Friese, Vice President of Merrill Lynch Special Needs Group, who will share with us the financial aspects of housing for loved ones with disability.”

To follow Mary & Melissa’s questions and flow of interview:

What does the term universal design mean?

·   In home design, in essence  – it means one size fits all

·   The design of products or environments to be usable by all people to the greatest extent possible without the need for specialized design

What does the term aging-in-place mean?

·       I am aging right here at this spot right now; I just moved 3’ age now I am aging there

·   Aging in place is a term used to describe a senior living in the residence of their choice as they age, while being able to have any services (or other support) they might need over time as their needs change, for as long as they are able.

·   Adaptations to your home which accommodate your needs as you get older

What does the term accessible design mean, and how does that differ from universal design?

·   While universal design is more of a “one size fits all” approach, like a floodlight; without the need for specialized design – in my mind, accessible design is very specialized design…it is design & planning intended to meet one person’s particular needs, like a laser beam vs. a floodlight

·   For example, there were significant challenges in my own home to meet the needs of my son Mikie, born with cerebral palsy, CP, who is now 25 and grew up at home. Certain universal design features helped, (such as widened doorways, large turning radiuses, no step entry’s), yet Mikie needed specialized design to meet his particular needs. For example Mikie needed help with all of his ADL’s (activities of daily life) such as dressing, pottying, bathing, feeding, and transferring into and out of equipment such as wheelchairs, gait trainers, & standers. However, due to Mikie’s special needs, he did not use a sink and he did not transfer himself from the wheelchair to the potty. So there was no need to create extra space beside the potty or in front of the sink, nor have a roll-under sink. Yet, bathing in a bathtub was critical for Michael. The bathtub relaxed Mikie’s tense muscles, and gave him great comfort & joy, especially while listening to his favorite music. As Mikie got older it was difficult for caretakers to lift him. Injury to caretakers was a concern. Finding strong caregivers and using only them proved challenging for many reasons.

·   Creating a lift system which could be used by any caregiver was the best solution; this allowed for better choice of caregivers, better safety for Mikie and caregivers & stress reduction for our family & caregivers

·   Importance of learning on-the-job vs. book training

·   My personal experience allows me to help families w/ specific needs. It taught me to know what questions to ask. I became passionate about what has become my life’s work, and I am empathetic because I have lived it

If baby boomers are considering doing some updates on their home, are there certain things to keep in mind if they may eventually want to stay in the home forever?

·   Universal design. Potential plans to convert into accessible design

·   Create a master-plan; implement in phases

Can certain things be done during a standard (non-accessible) remodel which can save money in the future if the home later needs to be made more accessible?

·   Yes, in a master plan include certain universal features now, and allow for other features to be phased in

·   Rough-in elevator

·   Curb-less showers

·   Other universal design features: wide hallways, 3’ doors, no step entry into home

If an aging person is having mobility challenges while still living in their home, what are the top concerns?

·   Safety concerns;

·   injury from falling is the #1 safety concern

What are reasonable options for an adult child to consider if they have an aging parent who is living on their own with mobility challenges?

·   Make existing home work better

·   Safety evaluation with PT or OT and/or certified aip spec… (CAPS) with 10+ years’ experience & personal life experience

·   Universal design on parents’ own home…in a way which allows future conversion to accessibility

·   “In-law Suite”. describe what that is

·   Multigenerational home – other countries ahead of the US in this

·   Game plan, monitoring

 Are many baby boomers beginning to plan ahead for future possible accessibility needs even though they do not need the features now?

·   Just beginning to consider it now

·   Not quite realizing the realization of the demographics.

·   The aging population needing aip solutions will soar in 5-10 years

·   The demand for universal design homes will soar

·   Universal homes which are as beautiful as standard home will be sought after

·   Due to supply and demand, those homes will sell faster and bring higher returns

·   Mather – elevator 4 stop, chose us because we solved difficult challenges

Regarding homes you have remodeled which were designed for people with multiple disabilities; I would like to hear you describe some of those case studies including problems and solutions, for example:

 Have you done a remodeling project for anyone suffering from a spinal cord injury?

·   Tevnan – renovated and fixed previous rush job

·   Racster – rush

·   Coatzee – rush

Have you designed and built to solve problems for other medical conditions?

·   Auto immune disease – similar to MS – Saad

·   MS – Reilly

·   CP – Seiff

·   Polio – Marquez

I understand you were recently featured on CBS Television, WUSA-9 in a segment entitled “Invisible Visitibility”. Can you tell us about that project?

·   Cassidy

Have you built projects for homeowners who– after doing the math– decided in favor of an aging-in-place solution over a retirement community or another option?

·      AARP studies indicate that most homeowners prefer to live in their home as they age

·      Prior to undertaking any large renovation project, universal or not, most homeowners analyze costs, benefits, resale value, options of selling & moving elsewhere vs. remodeling

·      Many in-home care providers along with other resources – everything from food delivery, in-home Dr. & therapy visits, etc. — assist owners to live at home as long as they wish.

·      Increasingly, owners analyze the cost of ongoing care in a facility and compare that to in-home care. They find it is significantly less expensive and more comfortable to remain at home. In many cases long-term care insurance will cover in home care.

·      Some owners even use reverse mortgages to fund large renovation projects so they have no mortgage or loan payments.

 You essentially absorbed most every dimension of full service remodeling, then specialized. Given the projected demand for effective aging-in-place solutions, it is fair to say homeowners recognize field experience as the critical component distinguishing service providers?

·      Yes, until they realize that the experience gained by living with a family member who has multiple disabilities and undertaking modifications to meet those needs is magnitudes above simply doing modifications for others

 Can you talk about the process you use to assist homeowners with their planning and remodeling needs?

·   1st phone discussion

·   Next, set an in home assessment

·   Enter DB process

·   DB1

·   DB2

·   Fixed price construction agreement

Are there any tax credits or tax deductions available for universal design or accessible modifications?

·   new “Design for Life” tax credits in Montgomery County for accessibility features

o   “Housing with ‘Design for Life’ features is critically important for many of our residents, including those living with mobility impairments and our seniors,” said Leggett.

The new law will provide:

  • a property tax credit for an accessibility feature installed on an existing residence;

  • a property tax credit for meeting a Level I or Level II accessibility standard on a new single-family residence;

  • Improvements for meeting a Level I accessibility standard;

o   tax credits to builders and homeowners for including Level I visit-ability (up to $3,600) and Level II live-ability (up to $10,000) accessibility features in new and existing residential housing;

Level One: Visit-Ability

A Visit-able home has three basic design elements:

  1. At least one no-step entry located at the front door, back door, side door (any door), deck or through the garage connected to an accessible route to a place to visit on that level.

  2. 32 inch or 2 feet by 10 feet nominal clear width interior doors.

  3.  A usable power room or bathroom.

Level Two: Live-Ability

A Live-able home has

  • The three basic design features of a visit-able home plus,

  • At least one bedroom, full bath, and kitchen with circulation path that connects the rooms to an accessible entrance.

·   (federal tax deductions for medically necessary modifications)

o   Capital Expenses – Home Improvements

o   You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for special equipment installed in a home, or for improvements, if their main purpose is medical care for you, your spouse, or your dependent. The cost of permanent improvements that increase the value of your property may be partly included as a medical expense. The cost of the improvement is reduced by the increase in the value of your property. The difference is a medical expense. If the value of your property is not increased by the improvement, the entire cost is included as a medical expense.

o   Certain improvements made to accommodate a home to your disabled condition, or that of your spouse or your dependents who live with you, do not usually increase the value of the home and the cost can be included in full as medical expenses. These improvements include, but are not limited to, the following items.

  • Constructing entrance or exit ramps for your home.

  • Widening doorways at entrances or exits to your home.

  • Widening or otherwise modifying hallways and interior doorways.

  • Installing railings, support bars, or other modifications to bathrooms.

  • Lowering or modifying kitchen cabinets and equipment.

  • Moving or modifying electrical outlets and fixtures.

  • Installing porch lifts and other forms of lifts (but elevators generally add value to the house).

  • Modifying fire alarms, smoke detectors, and other warning systems.

  • Modifying stairways.

  • Adding handrails or grab bars anywhere (whether or not in bathrooms).

  • Modifying hardware on doors.

  • Modifying areas in front of entrance and exit doorways.

  • Grading the ground to provide access to the residence.

The Virginia Livable Home Tax Credit (LHTC)

The Virginia Livable Home Tax Credit (LHTC)

program is designed to improve accessibility and universal visibility in Virginia’s residential units by providing state tax credits for the purchase of new units or the retrofitting of existing housing units.

Tax credits are available for up to $5,000 for the purchase of a new accessible residence and up to 50 percent for the cost of retrofitting existing units, not to exceed $5,000.