Design Ideas to Age in Place at Home
As we grow older and our physical abilities change, our living spaces sometimes need modifications to help us function, prevent falls and stay independent so we can “age in place” in our homes.
Through a design approach called Universal Design, or UD, we can make our homes more accessible, operation and safer.
UD often involves simple, small changes that can make a huge difference. For example, retrofitting a home using UD can en as easy as changing lighting to reduce glare, installing wall-to-wall carpet, putting up two handrails on staircases, or making thresholds smooth. Such changes actually benefit everyone, make living easier and more secure for people of all ages and abilities, from toddlers to seniors.
Universal Design sometimes can call for more involved remodeling like making a barrier-free bathroom with a walk-in tub or roll-in shower. Crating a more accessible kitchen may include appliances at lower heights and cabinets with roll-out shelves and handles rather than knobs. These UD elements are more of an investment but are still less expensive and disrupting than having to move from the home you love to assisted living or a nursing home. Retrofitting a home using UD also can be done gradually as your budget allows and on an “as needed” basis.
If you are building a hone, you are in a great position to incorporate UD options into your new space such as widening hallways for wheelchairs or walkers, lowering light switches, raising electrical outlets and putting blocks behind walls to accommodate grab bars later. The cost of incorporating UD design into the the design of a new home is minimal, while having UD throughout the house can add great value for resale.
Interior designers and home builders who are Certified Aging in Place (CAP) specialists can help you decide which Universal Design Elements to bring into your current home or to your new home’s blueprints. To find a specialist near you, visit the National Association of Home Builders at www.nahb.org and on the hone page, click “Find” and then click on “designees” to find the CAP directory.
source: Aging Resources Magazine