Front steps. Back steps. Pretty common, true? I remember our first home had three and my middle daughter accidentally took a nose dive down them one time. She came through OK, though and now her rough and tumble youngest child is giving her the same heart-attacks she gave me that day.
I remember my elderly neighbors next door with similar steps at their back door. The husband went down those steps one night, tripped, fell, and died from internal bleeding a few days later! His poor wife grieved deeply as my sweet husband installed a handrail and back yard light for her so she wouldn't do the same.
Fast forward a bit to a brand new home we once enjoyed owning. NO steps front or back! When my senior dad's Parkinson's Disease advanced, we did have to add a small wheelchair ramp to each doorway due to the threshold. But other than that, it was much safer for young AND old with that home.
Fast forward even further, and my elderly mom and I are back in a home with two steps at each door. And would you believe it. I was carrying a big bag of groceries out the door to my car, missed a step, and went tumbling down. I'm fine, whew! But what if that had been my senior mom! Fortunately, she's being really careful, taking her cane, and mainly staying inside during this cold, wet, and now snowy winter, other than errands with me helping her up and down the steps.
Do you sense a pattern? I love the description Aaron D. Murphy shares for his post, Aging in Place, as he defines Universal Design, which includes "entrances with NO STEPS." Sadly, those are not that common. I still see plenty of new homes being built with steps. And sometimes, it's odd steps which are actually more trippable since you're not expecting the extra space – like this one at my grandkids' home.
The frustrating part of all this is that NO STEPS at the entrances are a BENEFIT and a BLESSING to ALL ages! Tiny tot grandkids, active baby boomers, elderly seniors and everyone in between are better served and safer with one less barrier in our way. As the writer at Maplewood Homes puts it, "Barrier Free is simply building a new home without steps or narrow pathways which would prove to be a barrier for some individuals. It is also sometimes called "Zero Step Entry." Of course, Barrier Free can include even more very useful ideas, as he points out later in the article. But what a grand thing if more builders would embrace the Zero Step Entry idea. It would make our world a bit safer and a bit more pleasant for so many of our beloveds, whether young old or in between. And be a great aid for aging in place! What do you think?