Aging In Place

While few of us want to admit that we are aging, an overwhelming number of home owners have made the decision that they want to live independently in their own homes.

The easiest way to prepare for aging-in-place is to include design features when building a home or embarking on a remodeling project. The following features can be added during construction or remodeling jobs for little or no extra cost:

Getting safely in and out of the house         

  • Better outdoor lighting, such as path lighting to the front or rear door
  • Attractive ramps or a “zero step entrance” for the home
  • Handrails at steps and porches
  • One-story ranch  designs for new homes

Changes in the kitchen for easier meal preparation and eating

  • Lever-handle faucets with a pull-out sprayer
  • Raised dishwasher to avoid back strain
  • Rolling island that can be placed back under the counter
  • Revolving corner shelves and pull-out shelves
  • Lower, side-opening oven
  • Pull-out cutting board
  • Adjustable height sink
  • Side-by-side refrigerator with slide-out shelves and a water/ice dispenser
  • Cooking range with controls on front
  • Larger, more accessible cabinet and drawer pulls

Changes in bathrooms (the number one place for accidents in the home)

  • Lever handles on the faucets
  • Two to three attractive grab bars in the shower
  • Slide-bar type hand-held shower, for sitting or standing
  • Shower seats
  • Inset shampoo nooks
  • Curb-less showers that can be rolled into for wheelchair use
  • Moving tub and shower controls closer to entry point
  • Anti-scald, temperature and pressure balanced tub shower valves
  • Widening entry doors to at least 32 inches for wheelchair access
  • Higher toilets

Moving around in the house

  • Improved lighting with recessed fixtures  in common areas
  • Lever handles on doors and windows
  • Grab bars at key locations
  • Lower light switches and thermostats; raised outlets
  • Stacked closets on the first and second floors.  Frame the floor to accommodate a future elevator shaft should the need arise.  Make sure you size the closets appropriately
  • Blocking in walls to accommodate a future chair lift – straight stairs work better for this

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) training program, created in collaboration with AARP, can help you create your “livable home,” whether you are building a new home or retrofitting your existing residence. Look for the CAPS credential as a reliable way to identify professionals to modify your home or build a new one that is designed for a lifetime.

To find a CAPS designee in your area, visit NAHB.

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