Capstone Lifestyles

Grandpa couldn't go home

The following story about my family’s experience with my grandfather is the foundation of what has lead me to the inception of Capstone Lifestyles, Inc. Planning ahead for Aging-in-Place or Universal Design would have made for a much better ending, for everyone….
My grandfather was active, successful, and highly respected. He was a corporate leader in his industry, as well as a civic leader in his community.
He retired in 1980. Having lived their entire lives in northwestern Pennsylvania, he and Grandma wanted to move closer to family in NC. They built a beautiful, custom, 2 story colonial brick house, and settled in for their “golden years”.
As the years rolled on, Grandpa developed a problem with his knees, and getting upstairs to the master suite became more and more difficult. In fact, all of the bedrooms were upstairs.
In 1998, Grandpa had a stroke, and was not able to go home. The house was simply not adaptable for him.
Getting into the house was a challenge because of steps and necessary ramp lengths. Once in the house, there were tight corners and narrow hallways. The first floor plan included a formal dining room, formal living room, peninsula kitchen, small breakfast nook, small powder room, etc.
The staircase going upstairs was an L-shape with a landing deck and a 90 degree turn. A stair chair lift was not possible, and installing an elevator was not feasible. Remodeling for an open, accessible, floor plan would be cost prohibitive, and take too much time. We needed a solution, immediately.
After staying in a rehabilitation facility for several months, Grandpa’s evaluations showed his condition was worsening, and he would not improve. He was going to need constant care. Basically, he became confined to his bed or lift chair, and ended up in an assisted living facility.
It was then that the family realized the value of providing personal home care, versus the cost and quality of service provided in an assisted living facility. Even the very best assisted living facilities are generally poorly staffed, and have elements of a hospital like environment. Grandpa deserved better. The family decided to find a way to give him a comfortable home, with loving care.
Mom offered to take care of him, but she didn’t have room in her home. With my experience in residential design, and an uncle as a residential contractor, we designed an addition on the back of my mother’s home. Instead of turning over all of his assets to meet the assisted living plan requirements, we sold everything he owned to pay for the addition. The addition was planned as an ADA compliant space, but with his appreciation of finer upscale living in mind. It was very important for us that he felt comfortable in his new home, as well as feasible and comfortable for home health care personnel. He had an over-sized screened in porch so he could still enjoy the outdoors, and have room to entertain. We included a living room space and a kitchenette. The bathroom had a large (wheelchair radius) accessible walk-in, zero threshold, shower.
That’s where Grandpa lived until he passed away in August of 2000.
When it was time for Mom to retire, she wanted to relocate to be closer to me and my family. Her home was incredibly marketable because of the addition we built on her home. She was able to market her home as having a private efficiency apartment, or mother-in-law suite, with easy access into the main house!

One definition for the word capstone is “the crowning achievement, point, element, or event.”

I believe a person’s lifestyle should not be sacrificed in their golden years, but enhanced and treated as their capstone of life with continued independence, and comfort in their own living environment.
Having a stroke, a car accident, a fall, can happen to any of us – altering the lifestyles of the victim, as well as their family – sometimes for the rest of their lives. With just a little preemptive planning for the “what-ifs”, or potential future needs, lifestyle changes can be minimized.
Capstone Lifestyles, Inc. specializes in the long range plan of function and beauty in the kitchen, bath, and other cabinet areas of the home.

Please allow us to help you plan for your Capstone Lifestyle!