Aging in place design principles help make our homes more safe and accessible
As we grow older our living space should adapt to our changing needs and abilities. This helps ensure we can continue to live comfortably and safely in the home of our choice.
Aging in place design and remodeling is tailored to accommodate the needs of older adults by integrating features that promote mobility, accessibility, and safety. By incorporating universal design principles into a remodeling project, you can create a home that caters to your changing lifestyle and ensures you can age in place with ease.
Overview of Aging in place design
If your goal is to remain as independent for as long as possible and age in place in the comfort of your own home, then you should continue reading.
Aging in place design principles help us achieve this goal by making sure our homes are safe, accessible, and convenient for us as we get older. Aging in place design involves creating spaces that can accommodate the physical and cognitive changes that come with aging.
As we age, our mobility, strength, and balance may decline, making it harder to navigate through our homes. Falls are one of the most common causes of injuries among older adults, and many of these falls occur in the home.
By incorporating design features that improve mobility, increase safety, and promote accessibility, we can help reduce the risk of falls and other accidents, and help older adults maintain their independence and quality of life.
Importance of aging in place design for homeowners
As homeowners, it’s important to understand and incorporate aging in place design principles into our homes to ensure that we can continue living in them comfortably and safely. By doing so, we can avoid costly and disruptive moves to assisted living facilities or nursing homes.
Aging in place design can also increase the value of our homes and make them attractive to potential buyers who are looking for homes that can accommodate aging family members.
Understanding Aging in Place Design
There are several key principles that should be considered when designing a home for aging in place. These include mobility, accessibility, safety, and universal design.
As we age, our mobility may become limited due to physical conditions such as arthritis or joint pain. It’s important to design a home that allows for easy movement between rooms and floors. This can be achieved by installing wider doorways, removing thresholds, and creating open floor plans with few or no steps.
Along with mobility, accessibility is another important aspect of aging in place design. Accessibility features such as grab bars, handrails, and non-slip flooring can help prevent falls and make it easier to navigate through the home. It’s also important to ensure that important rooms such as the bathroom and bedroom are easily accessible.
Safety features such as smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and security systems are important for all homes, but they are especially important for older adults. It’s also important to consider other safety features such as good lighting, non-slip surfaces, and easy-to-use locks and handles.
Universal design principles involve creating homes that are accessible and usable by people of all ages and abilities. This can be achieved by incorporating features such as lever-style door handles, low-threshold showers, and adjustable countertops and cabinets.
Incorporating these design principles into your home can help ensure that you can age in place comfortably and safely.
Designing for Mobility, Accessibility, and Safety
When designing your home for aging in place, there are several things to keep in mind. Here are some practical tips to help you get started:
1. Install grab bars and handrails
These can be installed in key areas such as the bathroom, bedroom, and stairways to help prevent falls and make it easier to move around.
2. Remove thresholds
This can be done by installing flush transitions between rooms and floors to make it easier to move around in a wheelchair or walker.
3. Create open floor plans
Open floor plans with fewer or no steps can make it easier to move around and can also improve natural lighting and ventilation.
4. Install non-slip flooring
This can be done in high traffic areas such as the bathroom and kitchen to prevent slips and falls.
5. Ensure good lighting
Proper lighting can improve visibility and prevent accidents. Use a combination of natural and artificial lighting to create a bright and welcoming home.
6. Install easy-to-use locks and handles
Lever-style door handles and easy-to-use locks and handles can make it easier for older adults to open doors and windows.
7. Don’t forget your kitchen
Many times people will think of their bathroom and walkways or entrances, but leave out the kitchen. Lower countertops and cabinets to make it easier to reach items and avoid bending or reaching overhead. Install pull-out shelves and drawers to make it easier to access items in lower cabinets.
Incorporating Universal Design Features
In addition to mobility, accessibility, and safety features, universal design features can also be incorporated into your home remodeling projects. Here are some examples:
These can be installed in bathrooms to make them easier to access and prevent tripping hazards.
Adjustable countertops and cabinets
These can be lowered or raised to accommodate different heights and abilities, making it easier to use the kitchen and other areas of the home. You also can have multi-level countertops installed to help with this.
Wide doorways and hallways
These can make it easier to move around in a wheelchair or walker and also improve natural light and ventilation.
Lever-style door handles
These can be easier to use than traditional doorknobs, especially for those with arthritis or other hand and wrist issues.
These can eliminate the need for steps altogether, making it easier to enter and exit the home.
Transitions, done right
When you design for older adults, one thing you have to understand is that eyesight and physical capabilities are affected by age. When you have transitions, such as a step down into a room or countertops that are multi-height, it is important to make it apparent that the transition is there. You can do this by adding color in (such as a colored stair riser or edging on a step) so it is obvious that the transition is there.
By incorporating these universal design features, you can create a home that is accessible and usable for people of all ages and abilities, not just older adults. This can also increase the value of your home and make it more attractive to potential buyers in the future.
At Stella Contracting, Inc. we have a history of making homes accessible for older adults. Our experience and training makes us uniquely able to assist you in home modifications and remodeling for aging in place. We are able to go through our checklist of items we’ll go through while visiting your home, so we can advise you about the right things to have done to meet your goals.
What are the benefits of aging in place design?
Aging in place design focuses on creating a living environment that is safe, comfortable, and accessible for older adults who wish to remain in their own homes as they grow older.
It involves incorporating specific design principles and features that accommodate the changing needs and abilities of aging individuals.
The benefits of aging in place design are numerous and can greatly improve the quality of life for older adults.
- It allows older adults to maintain their independence and autonomy, which is essential to their emotional well-being.
- Reduces the risk of falls and other accidents, as it incorporates features such as grab bars, non-slip flooring, and wider doorways that make it easier to move around the home.
- It can make daily tasks more manageable, with features like lever-style door handles, adjustable-height countertops, and easy-to-reach storage.
- It can also improve accessibility, with features like ramps, stairlifts, and elevators that make it easier for older adults to navigate their homes.
- Incorporating universal design principles for aging in place can also make a home more appealing to a wider range of people, including those with disabilities or who are recovering from injuries or illnesses. This can increase the resale value of a home in the long run.
What is the difference between universal design and aging in place design?
As an older adult looking to stay in your home as you age, you may have come across the terms “universal design” and “aging in place design.” While both concepts share similar goals of creating a safe and accessible living environment for seniors, there are some key differences between the two.
Universal design is a broader approach to design that focuses on creating spaces that can be used by people of all ages and abilities. It involves designing homes, buildings, and products that are user-friendly and accommodating to people with a wide range of physical and cognitive abilities. Universal design principles include features such as a zero-step entrance, wide doorways and hallways, lever-style door handles and faucets, and non-slip flooring.
Aging in place design, on the other hand, is a more specific approach that focuses on adapting existing homes to meet the changing needs of seniors as they age. Aging in place design principles may involve incorporating features such as grab bars in bathrooms, raised toilet seats, and wheelchair ramps to improve accessibility and safety.
While there is some overlap between the two concepts, aging in place design is a more targeted approach that is specifically geared towards seniors who want to stay in their homes as they age. Universal design, on the other hand, is a broader approach that seeks to create inclusive spaces for people of all ages and abilities.
As you plan your home remodeling project, it’s important to consider both universal design and aging in place principles to ensure that your home is safe and comfortable for you to live in as you grow older.
How much does it cost to make a home age-friendly?
Making a home age-friendly can vary widely in terms of cost, depending on the scope of the project. Simple modifications such as adding grab bars or changing the doorknob style may only cost a few hundred dollars. While, larger projects that involve major renovations to the home can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
It’s important to consult with a professional to assess your specific needs and budget to determine the best course of action for your unique situation. Keep in mind, however, that investing in age-friendly modifications can increase the value of your home and ultimately improve your quality of life as you age in place.
What safety considerations should be taken into account when designing an aging in place home?
Designing a home that promotes safety is one of the most important factors to consider when planning to age in place. Aging in place design should prioritize safety above all else. Here are some key safety considerations to keep in mind:
1. Slip-resistant surfaces: Flooring, stairs, and other walking surfaces should be slip-resistant to prevent falls. This can be achieved by using low-pile carpeting, slip-resistant tile, and other materials.
2. Adequate lighting: As we age, our vision tends to deteriorate. Proper lighting is essential for older adults to navigate the home and avoid accidents. It’s important to have good lighting in all areas of the home, including hallways, staircases, and bathrooms.
3. Grab bars and handrails: Installing grab bars and handrails in key areas of the home, such as bathrooms and staircases, can provide additional support and prevent falls.
4. Easy-to-use door handles and switches: Arthritis and other conditions can make it difficult to grip and turn knobs, so consider using lever-style door handles and light switches that are easy to use.
5. Adequate space: As people age, they may need more space to maneuver around the home. Designing for ample space in key areas such as hallways, doorways, and bathrooms can make it easier for older adults to move around the home.
By incorporating these safety considerations into the design of an aging in place home, you can create a comfortable and secure environment for yourself or your loved one.
How can technology be used to improve aging in place design?
Technology can play a critical role in improving aging in place design. With the advancements in technology, it is possible to design homes that are more accessible, safer, and easier to navigate for older adults. Here are some ways technology can be used to improve aging in place design:
1. Smart home technology
Smart home technology can help older adults control various home features, such as lighting, temperature, and security, with ease. With the help of voice-activated assistants like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, older adults with limited mobility or dexterity can easily manage their home environment.
2. Telehealth services
Telehealth services can help older adults manage their health from the comfort of their own home. With telehealth services, older adults can video chat with their healthcare providers, receive medical advice, and get their prescriptions refilled without leaving their homes.
3. Wearable technology
Wearable technology, such as smartwatches and fitness trackers, can help older adults monitor their activity levels, heart rate, and other health metrics. This technology can provide valuable insights into an individual’s health and help them stay active and healthy.
4. Fall detection technology
Falls are a significant concern for older adults, and technology can help prevent them. Fall detection technology, such as sensors and alarms, can alert caregivers or emergency services in case of a fall, providing peace of mind and quick response times.
Incorporating technology into aging in place design can help older adults live more independently, stay connected to their healthcare providers, and ensure their safety and well-being. Consider incorporating some of these technological solutions to create a more accessible, safe, and comfortable living environment.
However, it is important to note that technology should not be the only solution for aging in place design. It should be used in conjunction with other design principles, such as mobility, accessibility, and universal design features, to create a holistic approach to aging in place. By combining various solutions, you can create a customized plan that works for your unique situation and meets your specific needs as you age.