aging in place

Customizing Homes for Aging in Place

Age Friendly Home Construction and Modifications

Laurence Weinstein is a renowned expert on age-friendly architecture. He’s pioneered the concept of “Design adapting to people… rather than people adapting to design.” His non-profit organization, Smart Livable Homes, offers a complete checklist for Universal and Accessible Designed Homes.

These principles address a wide range of physical and mental abilities. Designs are affordable, accessible, adjustable, adaptable, and attractive.

The “visit-able home”

The process starts with making accessible pathways and entrances:

  1. One ZERO-STEP entrance to the home 
  2. A minimum 32” clear, open passage space for all main interior doors, including bathrooms 
  3. A full wheelchair-accessible bathroom on the main floor 

Other essential features promoted by www.Livablehomes.org include adding appropriate interior features… proper electrical and lighting systems… and customized kitchen, bathroom and bedroom modifications:

  1. Wide hallways for easy passage of household furnishings and personal accessibility. 
  2. Wide exterior and interior doors for easy passage. 
  3. Raised grounded electrical outlets and easy to access. 
  4. Larger rocker style wall switches located within easy reach at approximately 42” height. 
  5. Lever-style door and faucet handles – easier to operate. 
  6. Large, easy-to-read thermostats at a convenient height for easy adjustment. 
  7. Adjustable-height shelves in all closets for flexible storage and retrieval. 
  8. Energy-efficient fluorescent lighting to eliminate shadows and create a safer environment. 
  9. Convenient cabinet systems with accessibility to store, retrieve, or use kitchen and bath accessories/features. 
  10. Easy-access sinks and plumbing – faucets with designs reflecting current décor trends. 
  11. Kitchen appliances with large front or side mounted controls for easier operation. 
  12. Elevated or raised dishwasher for no-stoop, no-bend loading and unloading. 
  13. Oval-bowl toilets at more comfortable heights in all bathrooms. 
  14. Easy-access, single-lever shower control in master bathroom with anti-scald, pressure-balance feature. 
  15. Full-length vanity mirrors mounted directly above counter backsplash. 
  16. Full-extension drawers and shelves inside cabinets for easy access. 

SGPA, a San Diego-based Architecture and Planning firm, offers more detailed suggestions and advice to enhance everyday living – click here to learn more.

Start Modifying… From the Start

Don’t wait until retirement to make modifications to your home… if you can, get an early start. Vince Butler, Residential Remodeling Contractor, spoke to AARP Livable Communities, he said:

“There are several simple solutions I could have included in the initial construction, and the challenge of later having to accommodate my mom as she recovered from surgery drove home a few more lessons, namely: The time to install ‘aging-friendly’ features in a home is when it’s being built or remodeled — regardless of the age of the current or potential residents.” 

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