9 Ways to Make Your Home Aging-In-Place Friendly
Design your home for long-term living with the help of Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist BeckySue Becker.
Subtle design changes can enable everyone to age comfortably in their own home. BeckySue Becker, CMKBD, CLIPP™, owner of Designs by BSB and a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist, shares the basics of the concept of aging in place and tips everyone should consider when preparing their house for the next phase of life.
What is aging in place and why should someone consider it?
BeckySue Becker: It’s for one to be able to live in their home comfortably and independently no matter their age, income, or ability.
How does one know their home is adaptable to aging in place?
BSB: Most homes have the ability to adapt (such as lowering kitchen countertops to a 30-inch height with knee space for someone who cannot stand for long periods of time or is in a wheelchair), but there are circumstances where it may be too costly to make modifications. For example, older homes can sometimes only have 24-inch door openings, which makes a curbless entry from the outside not always possible.
When remodeling for aging in place, what is the top priority?
BSB: It’s all about incorporating safety into your design, even with simple selections like choosing contrasting colors, which can help you better navigate a space if you have sight problems. The most common and best example is adding a grab bar to your shower.
Top Things to Consider for Aging-In-Place Design
■ Add an electrical outlet near the toilet for use of night light, heated toilet seat or personal hygiene system, etc.
■ Avoid toggle switches. Paddle or rocker switches are easier because you just tap them and the lights turn on.
■ Doorbells and smoke/carbon monoxide alarms are helpful for people who have hearing challenges.
■ It’s recommended that baseboards be at least 9 inches tall to avoid drywall damage from accidental contact with wheelchairs.
■ Use return levers for handles on cabinets and interior doors to avoid snagging clothes, purses, and other items.
■ Consider auto sink faucet controls that can be operated with a foot or knee, or controls that automatically turn on/off.
■ Select appliances with backlit or colorful knobs (like the signature red knobs of Wolf products) that are easy to see.
■ Smart speakers in the bathroom allow for voice-activated phone calls in case of an emergency.
■ Proper lighting increases safety and makes it easier to perform tasks. Some lighting options include toe kicks on cabinets to identify edges/walkways, add direct-wired lighting or battery-powered lighting inside cabinetry to see better, and incorporating LED ribbons under handrails and stair treads.