Getting older is a reality. Everybody ages. Our knees pop when we stand up or sit down. Our back groans and we remember what it was like when we were younger.
Yes, getting older is a reality we all face but what if there were things we could do to our house to make life easier as we go about performing routine everyday tasks? Studies have shown that as many as 85% of seniors (65+) want to stay in their homes as long as possible but as few as 15% have done anything to make that possible.
The terms Age in Place, Universal Design and Visitability all mean slightly different things but are being used interchangeably. A broad definition would be “The ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.”
I’m one of the owners of Master Remodelers, a local General Contractor who specializes in Age in Place remodeling. Our company was first introduced to the world of Aging in Place when our founder, Dawn Steimer, was faced with the reality of her father (and company co-founder) suffering from a heart attack and early onset dementia all within a short period of time.
Shortly after her father left the company due to his health challenges, Dawn took classes through the National Association of Homebuilders and earned her CAPS certification in Aging in Place. Fast forward fifteen years and we use Age in Place design principles in nearly all of our bathroom and kitchen designs.
We’ve found that remodeling your home, specifically the bathroom can often allow you to stay in your home five to ten years longer than doing nothing. Think of safety issues like eliminating the need to step over the bathtub or shower curb to take a shower.
A walk in or zero threshold shower can make this a reality. Don’t want clunky and bulky grab bars that look like they belong in a commercial setting? There are grab bars available that don’t look like commercial grab bars (they’ve won Peoples Choice Awards from one of the big DIY themed TV stations!).
What if you could actually save money in the long run by taking on an Age in Place remodel in your home?
Some people find that it’s better to sell their house and move to a home that would be easier or more cost effective to Age in Place, but you may not actually have to.
Take a look at our free checklist below.
Have you ever wanted a reference for aging in place issues? Are you wondering how to incorporate some aesthetically pleasing designs into your project? If so, our Aging In Place Remodeling Checklist might be what you need. The checklist below contains features you may want to consider for your next renovation project. It also provides a quick reference for various aging in place issues.
____Low maintenance exterior finish such as brick or quality vinyl.
____Low maintenance landscaping
____Decks, patios, balcony surfaces are no more than 1/2 inch below the floor level inside the home.
OVERALL FLOOR PLAN:
____Main living on a single story, including a full bathroom.
____No steps between room areas on the same / main level.
____Five X five clear turn space in the living, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom for a wheelchair.
____Flush is best, no trip hazards.
____Exterior is 1/2 inch and is beveled.
____Interior is 1/4 inch maximum.
____Openings are 32 inch of clear width which requires a 36 inch door.
____Door hardware is a lever instead of a knob.
____Plenty of natural light.
____Lowered windows or taller windows with a lower sill height.
____Low maintenance exterior and interior finishes.
____Easy to operate window hardware.
___Accessible path of travel to the home.
___At least one no step entry that is under cover.
___Sensor light at an exterior no step entry that focuses on the front door lock.
___Front / entry door has a clear opening of 32 inches which requires a 36 inch door.
___Non slip flooring in entry area.
___Entry door has a sidelight or both high and low peephole viewer.
___Doorbell is in an accessible location.
GARAGE OR CARPORT:
___Carport is covered and provides adequate shelter for loading and unloading.
___Carport and garage width allows the use of lift equipment for chairs.
___Five foot minimum aisle between walls / cars and accessible vans.
___Garage door / carport opening heights allow for taller roof vans.
___Ramp to doorway if needed
___If steps are the only option, then have a handrail on both sides.
___Lever style handles or pedal controlled
___Thermostatic or anti-scald controls
KITCHEN & LAUNDRY COUNTERS:
___Wall support for adjustable and/or varied height cabinets and removable base cabinets.
___Upper cabinets three inches lower than standard upper cabinets.
___Accented stripes on the edge of countertops to aid in visual orientation to the workspace.
___Counter space for dish landing adjacent to or opposite of all appliances.
___Base cabinets with roll out trays and shallow lazy susan style storage.
___Pull down shelving.
___Glass front cabinet doors.
___Open shelving for easy access to items used frequently.
___Easy to read, use and understand controls.
___Washing machine and dryer raised 12 – 15 inches above the floor.
___Front loading laundry machines.
___Microwave oven at counter height, in the wall or drawer style.
___Side by side refrigerator / freezer.
___Side swing or in wall oven.
___Raised dishwasher with push button controls.
___Electric cooktop with level burners, front controls and downdraft vent to pull heat away.
___”Hot” surface indicator light on range.
___30 X 48 inch clear space at appliances or 60 inch diameter clear space for turns.
___multi level work areas to accommodate cooks of different heights.
___Open under counter seated work areas.
___Lots of task lighting in all work areas.
___Loop / bar style cabinet pulls and hardware.
___Pull ut spray faucet and lever handles.
___In multi story homes have a laundry chute to laundry area.
___Wall support for adjustable and/or varied height cabinets and removable base cabinets.
___Contrasting color edge boarder at countertops.
___A wheelchair maneuverable bath on the main level with a 60 inch turning radius.
___If a 60 inch turn is impossible, then a 36 X 36 inch or 30 X 48 inch “T” turn space.
___Bracing in walls around the tub, shower and toilet for grab bars.
___Grab bars should support 250 – 300 pounds of force.
___If a stand up shower is used, then it should be curb-less and no less than 36 inches wide.
___Bathtubs should be lower or a step through style.
___Folding seat in the shower.
___Adjustable / handheld shower heads with a six foot hose.
___Tub / shower controls offset from the center.
___Showers with built in antibacterial coatings.
___Good lighting and ventilation in the shower and all areas of bathroom.
___Toilet 2 1/2 inches higher than standard height or height adjustable.
___Toilet paper holder can be changed with one hand.
___Wall hung sink with knee space and panel to protect pipes.
___Slip resistant flooring in bathroom and shower.
STAIRWAYS, LIFTS, ELEVATORS:
___Handrails on both sides of stairways, 1 1/4 inch diameter.
___Handrails anchored in to studs or other structural support, not drywall.
___Good lighting in stairways.
___Increase visibility of stairs through contrasting color between treads and risers.
___New construction homes can plan for elevators through stacked, oversized closets.
___Residential stair / chair lifts.
___Slope no greater than one inch rise for every foot in length.
___Five foot landing at entrance.
___Two inch minimum curbs for safety.
___Adjustable rods and shelves in closets.
___Lighting in all closets.
___Easy open doors with no obstructions.
___Smooth, non glare, slip resistant surfaces both inside and outside the home.
___If carpet is used, less than a 1/2 inch pile with a firm padding.
___Color and texture contrasts to indicate a change in surface levels.
___Filters easily accessible for maintenance
___Energy efficient units.
___Windows that can easily be opened for cross ventilation.
ELECTRIAL, LIGHTING, SAFETY AND SECURITY:
___Light switches by each entrance to halls and rooms.
___Light fixtures with adequate bulbs and brightness in vital areas like exits and bathrooms.
___Switches, thermostats, etc placed no higher than 48 inches off the floor.
___Monitored security system with panic buttons in proper areas.
ENERGY EFFICIENT FEATURES:
___Foamed in insulation.
___Ducts sealed against leaks.
___Outlets spaced closer than 12 feet to minimize cords.
___Clear access in front of switches and controls.
___Rocker or touch light switches.
___Audible and / or visual systems for doorbell, phone landline, alarm, CO2, smoke detectors.
___Security / intercom systems.
MAINTENANCE / CONVIENCE
___Easy to clean surfaces.
___Bulk pet feeders.
___Built in recycling
___Apartment / room for care givers or rental income
This is not an exhaustive list by any means. Technology continues to change and impact the Age In Place market and impact our safety and convenience.
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