Housing and health care professionals are abuzz about “aging in place.”  The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention defines aging in place as “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably regardless of age, income, or ability level.”  Adapting to change gets harder as we age.  People are living longer and many desire to stay in their homes and familiar environment as long as possible.  Whether building a new home or renovating an existing one, plans can be made to allow for aging in place.

See the list below for considerations to make when building a new home

  • open floor plan
  • wider hallways/doors
  • higher than usual electrical receptacles
  • counters with knee space
  • countertop space on each side of appliances
  • space for a large side-by-side refrigerator/freezer
  • raised dishwasher
  • 5’ turning radius in each room,
  • bathroom walls reinforced for grab bars
  • adjustable height hand-held shower head

Some easy and inexpensive renovations to an existing home

  • improved lighting including motion-detectors
  • contrasting color palettes
  • lever door handles
  • remote controlled lighting/heating/cooling
  • audible and visual alarms
  • full-length windows near entrances
  • bench or table near doors

The owners of this home pointed out some of their favorite accessibility features in the kitchen: full size freezer, double pull out trash can, chair height warming drawer/double oven, and a wide pantry with adjustable shelves.

It is said that renovating a house to allow for the needs of mobility impaired persons will increase its property value by as much as 25%.  These universal design costs will be minuscule if a need arises due to accident, health problems, or aging.