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Aging in Place

Aging in Place Ideas For A Remodel Or A New Addition

Aging in place refers to living where you have lived for years, using products, services and conveniences which allow you to remain at home as circumstances change. Aging in place is also called universal design as it relates to design and construction; it combines ease of use for all ages and ability levels with safety for all occupants. With a little advance planning, the ideas listed here can be incorporated into a remodeling project or a new addition.

Entry
-Install a sensor light at the entry.
-Locate the doorbell at an accessible level.
-Add both high and low peepholes for safety.
-Include a bench to put packages on while opening the door. 

Floor Plan

-Remove any exiting steps between rooms on the same level.
-Locate a bedroom and full bathroom on the main living level.
-Leave a 5’ turn space in the main living area, kitchen and at least one bedroom and bathroom.
-Provide a hallway at least 2’10”.

Interior Openings

-Increase the width of doorways to at least 2’10”.
-Use lever handles instead of doorknobs.
-Place new window so that sill height is lower for ease of operation.

Stairs

-Incorporate handrails on both sides of stairways.
-Make sure there is adequate stairway lighting.
-Consider use of contrasting colors on treads and risers and for top and bottom steps.
-New stairways should be at least 4” wide to accommodate a future lift.

Electrical, Lighting and HVAC

-Place wall switches no higher than 48”from the floor.  Raise receptacles to no less than 15” from the floor.
-Replace conventional light switches with rocker, touch or motion sensor switches.
-Wire the house for intercom, security and computer.
-Place HVAC equipment so that filters is easily accessible.

Flooring

-Use slip resistant, glare-free, smooth surfaces throughout the house.
-Choose low pile carpet with firm padding for carpeted areas.
-Indicate a change in surface levels with a color or texture contrast.

Changes to your bath and kitchen can be useful now for kids and later for you

Bathroom
-Use a curb-free shower pan for barrier-free shower access with a minimum opening of 2’10”. Add a fold-down seat or built-in bench/shelf.
-Choose an adjustable height showerhead. Pick fixtures with anti-scald/pressure-balanced features.
-Mount shower controls so that they can be easily reached from outside the enclosure.
-Incorporate grab bars into the design or allow for their later placement.
-Vary the height of vanities to accommodate those shorter or taller than average.
-Pick faucets with lever handles.
-Choose a wall-hung sink with a slanted panel to hide pipes.
-Consider a toilet with a seat of 17” to 19”.

Kitchen

-Vary the height of countertops to accommodate children, adults and seated cooks.
-Install contrasting banding on countertops to define edge.
-Use pulls rather than knobs. They are easier for small or arthritic hands to operate.
-Consider the placement of appliances for universal access. Elevating the dishwasher and using refrigerator drawers are two options.
-Choose appliances that have easily readable and accessible controls.
-For wheelchair access, incorporate open space under the sink, a prep area and the cook top.
-Choose base cabinets with pull-out trays, turntable, and open shelving.
-Pick faucets with lever handles or pedal controls and anti-scald/pressure-balanced features.

Garage

-Consider a sloped pad/floor to eliminate the need for a ramp.
-Ensure that the height and width can accommodate a lift and raised roof van.

Outside

-Plant low-maintenance shrubs and trees. 
-Provide a step-free 2’10” wide entrance from the walkway, driveway, decks and patio spaces into the main level of the house.