When you are looking to live in your home through retirement, it changes how you approach design. The goals of universal or aging-in-place design have the long-term in mind and strive to achieve a house that is completely accessible and easy to live in for everyone at any age. Many houses, whether they were built last year or many years ago, require quite a few changes to the interior and exterior to make them safer and more accessible.
In the Kitchen
The goal is to create easily accessible storage so that homeowners can keep using their kitchen without discomfort or danger of falling. This can include pull-down shelves in cabinets, lowering the height of counter tops and rounding their edges.
Bathroom and Showers
Bathrooms are where most falls happen. A universal bathroom design creates a hazard-free and comfortable place with the least chance of slipping or falling. Barrier-free showers replace shower-bath combinations and enclosed frame with a ledge to remove the danger of tripping. Wet rooms are also a common alternative, making an entirely clear floor space for free maneuvering. Adjustable and handheld showerheads allow you to put the showerhead where it is most comfortable for you to reach. Grab bars for stability can be installed in the bathroom and shower, or blocking can be set behind the tiles so in the future they are easily addable. There are many stylish options for grab bars; there is no need for the stainless steel commercial look.
Accessibility doesn’t just make getting in and out of a home easy; getting around inside is also essential. Aging-in-place design calls for entryways to be obstacle-free, built wide enough for wheelchair access, and to be brightly lit. Ramps instead of stairs are ideal, but you can also make stairs accessible with lifts and handrails on both sides. Throughout the home, doorways should be between 32 to 36 inches wide. Non-slip flooring and low-tile carpeting make safer walking and smoother rolling.
For an aging-in-place design expert, reach out to Kent McCool, Home Safe Homes.