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by AARP Outreach & Service, February 1, 2004
Doors can let you into a room or a home. They can also keep you out. Think about this the next time you finish a messy outdoor project. You want to get inside and clean up as fast as possible. But the round door knob on your back door stands between you and your kitchen sink. You can't turn that knob with hands that are covered with garden dirt or engine grease.
Many people are throwing away their round door knobs. That's because they are so hard to use. Young people with small hands can't grab them. Older people with weak hands can't turn them. People who love to work on cars or weed the garden think they are a slippery nuisance.
These people are using lever handles instead. You don't have to twist or turn lever handles. You don't even have to grab them. All you do is press down on the handle's flat surface and push. The door opens. It takes only the touch of a closed fist or a finger. You can even open doors with an elbow if your hands are messy or full of packages.
Put lever handles on all your doors, inside and outside. Buy two lever handles for each door. You'll need one lever for the outside of the door and one lever for the inside.
Do you want the door to lock? Then choose "freewheeling" or "clutch" lever handles. These will be more secure. An intruder won't be able to jar the lock open and get into your house. This might happen with other lever handles.
Choose a handle that curves back toward the door. You'll be less likely to catch a sleeve or purse strap on this kind of handle. Be sure to look for a handle that is at least five inches long. Longer handles are even better. You won't need as much force to open a door with a long handle.
Put your handles at the right height. They will be easier to use. They should be no higher than 44 inches from the finished floor.
Don't feel like replacing your door knobs? Think about buying a lever handle adapter. This handle fits over your existing knob. Some of these handles are portable. This means you can move them from room to room. You can also take them when you travel.
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