Nov 19 2018

Universal Design is for All Ages and Places

 Aging in Place is “the ability to live in one’s home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income or ability level.” Aging in Place Plan is not for “old people”. If you younger than 40 you probably think Aging in Place Design is something you do not need to think about! If you are over 40, you have probably already considered making a few changes to your home.


If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, you need to consider making changes in your home at your own pace:


  • Do you have an elderly parent, relative or friend who comes for dinner or a short visit or stays in your home overnight?
  • Do you know someone who has been in an accident or had a short term or long term illness that required assistance getting off and on toilets, in and out of showers, had to use crutches or a walker,  had limited eyesight?
  • Do you plan to sell your home now or in the future and do not want to limit resale to one type of buyer?
  • Are you planning to update your existing home, add square footage to your home, build a new home or  move to your “forever home” where you can age in place.


Universal Design was the front runner of Aging in Place Design. Now, more contractors are giving future buyers the options to make these changes during preconstruction. Many times when you are forced to accommodate these needs of a loved one, the cost is more and it will all need to be changed at one time.


90% of people over 65 want to stay in their homes for as long as possible but most older people live in homes that are more than 20 yrs old.  Doorways are too small to accommodate walkers and wheelchairs, showers are too small for a  shower seat or walkers and many have no bedroom and full bath on the first floor.


Universal and Aging In Place Design does not need to look like a nursing home.  Many beautiful grab bars now look like “hardware jewelry” in your shower, next to a toilet or tub, or on a wall next to a step-up at a doorway.Even children can benefit by having grab bars in showers. Combination shower heads and had held are essential for someone sitting on a shower seat.


Single lever faucets are very stylish and easier to operate. Mirrors that tilt make drying hair and applying make easier for someone in a wheelchair.  Small adults and children will also appreciate these mirrors.


Comfort height toilets (16-17″ seat height)  with elongated seats are now the norm for most homes.  When replacing your lower and short seat toilets, consider comfort height for your aging guests. These toilets are the same heights as wheel chair seats. Replace door knobs with easier opening lever handles. D shaped cabinet knobs are easier to grab. Roll out shelves and swing out corner cabinets for kitchens and bathrooms.


If you start making gradual changes in your existing home, the expense will not be as great when an emergency arises. Here are few more changes for you to consider:


  • Motion detector lights in foyers, hallways, stairwells and closets
  • Anti-scald faucets and motion detector faucets
  • Contrasting edges on countertops
  • Non-slip floors
  • Create at least one entry into your home with no steps
  • Install electric outlets and light switches 42” from the floor
  • Doorways should be 32-36” wide to accommodate walkers and wheel chairs
  • Hallways 42” wide for wheelchairs to make a turn
  • Multi-level countertops heights-30” ,36” and  42”
  • Lighting under upper cabinets
  • Include a full bath and bathroom on the main floor
  • Reinforce areas were grab bars would be installed to hold 250-300 lbs
  • Handrails on both sides of staircases


I hope you will consider making a few changes in your home that will make life easier for your loved ones, visitors and when you need to Age in Place!


Here are couple of links that can you started:



Share Post
No Comments

Post a Comment