If you’re curious about the term aging in place but unsure what exactly it means, you’re not alone. As more individuals attempt to learn what this formal-sounding phrase means for them and their loved ones, the definition of aging in place has become a rising search on Google.
So, without further ado: The CDC defines the term as “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.”
Okay, but how does this apply to homeowners?
In fact, aging in place design—or universal design—is a growing niche in the build industry. Long-term thinkers aim to ensure that they and their aging parents can remain in their respective homes as long as possible. Other homeowners seek to accommodate disabled persons or other individuals with mobility issues. Whatever your reason for contemplating the inclusion of aging in place or universal design elements into your next home upgrade, at Valley Home Builders we believe creating an accessible space is never a bad idea.
On that note, we share with you an abbreviated list of some key universal design ideas for your home’s interior. Some require more work than others, but all are worth considering before your embark on your remodel.
Aging in Place & Universal Design
Widen All Thresholds: According to the National Association of Home Builders, all doorways, thresholds, and hallways should provide 32 inches of clearance space, but that’s at a bare minimum. Wheelchair sizes vary, so plan for more space instead of less.
Single-Story Living: Installing an elevator or functioning stair lift in a multi-level home is not always realistic. It’s more important that a home’s ground level includes access to all necessary living spaces, which may require converting an office into a bedroom or upgrading a half bath to a full.
Non-Skid Flooring: Slippery surfaces present a potential danger to anyone but can risk surgery and devastating injury for the elderly. Replace slick walking surfaces with a material that provides sufficient tread. This is especially important in the bathroom or kitchen where water often ends up on the floor.
A Better Bathroom: A curb-less, open shower or walk-in bathtub (pictured at right) is a necessity for any person with limited mobility. A built-in shower seat, hand-held shower head, and grab bars—in the shower and by the toilet—will also go a long way in improving accessibility in the bathroom.
Lever Handles: Replace round doorknobs with lever handles to ensure all doors can be easily opened without the full use of both hands. The same rule should apply to cabinet fixtures.
In the Kitchen: In addition to considering non-slippery floors and new cabinet handles, the best universal design kitchen should be built around flexibility. This means installing accessible cabinets that rely on pull-outs and lazy susans. They may need to be raised or lowered, depending on your specific needs. Likewise, the ideal countertops are height adjustable. And a section of kitchen space devoted to counters without cabinets beneath proves hugely helpful for those requiring wheelchair accommodations.
This list is by no means exhaustive but should offer you an idea of just some of the things required for proper aging in place and universal design.
To learn more and determine your specific needs, contact Valley Home Builders today.