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Safety checklist: Dining room

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No matter the furniture style, a pleasant dining experience takes place at diner-friendly furniture, such as the slab table and leather dining chairs we saw in the New American Home in Winter Park, Florida, that was built for the NAHB's 2012 International Builders Show.

  1. Will your dining table accommodate a wheelchair?
    A wheelchair user would fit right in with other guests at the New American Home dining table. Would she feel at home at yours?

    The table top must be higher than the arms on the wheelchair, and it must also clear the chair's controls. Tables with aprons won't work. (If you can't cross your legs while sitting at a table, you know the apron is too low to let a wheelchair user get close enough.)

  2.  Are there steady but easy-to-move dining chairs with arms?
    And is there enough clearance between the tabletop and the chair arms that you don't scrape the backs of your hands as you pull yourself up to the table? The arms of the chair from A. Rudin in the San Francisco Design Center, above, and the Design Center chair below both clear the table nicely.

  3. Are chairs proportioned to the users and easy to get into and out of?

  4. Is the tabletop friendly -- with edges and corners that aren't too sharp?

  5. Do the table legs accommodate your legs?

    Traditional tables with carved legs can be real knee-knockers.  A centered pedestal base can be the most accessible, and if the tabletop slides open to accommodate a leaf or two, a single pedestal base allows you to open the tabletop to insert the leaves without having to lift the entire table -- base and all.

For more complete home safety check lists, click on the following links:

"Safe at Home Checklist" from Rebuilding Together, along with the Administration on Aging and the American Occupational Therapy Association

"Preventing Falls at Home" brochure with an easy-to-follow checklist from the Administration on Aging

"The AARP Home Fit Guide: Information and Tips to Keep Your Home in Top Form for Comfort, Safety, and Livability" booklet includes checklists on home maintenance and energy efficiency, as well as livability evaluations and recommendations for fixing problems and how to get professional help

CAPS directory of Certified Aging in Place Specialists from the National Association of Home Builders