Designing for Aging in Place and Accessibility

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Designing spaces that allow for aging in place is very popular, especially with the Baby Boomer generation.

No one likes the idea of having to leave their home because of mobility and health issues, so a renovation is an ideal time to put in features that will allow you to stay in your home as long as possible.

Mobility Between Levels & Spaces

A major reason for not being able to stay in your home is the difficulty of mobility between levels. When designing your new space, eliminate steps wherever you can. Raising a sunken living room to create a single-level main floor is a great way to maximize design layout options now, while also creating long-term use of the entire area. If you have the space, you may consider roughing in an elevator shaft; this gives you the opportunity to have an elevator installed should you need one in the future, without having to invest in the entire cost today.

Widened Doorways

Wide doorways and hallways throughout the home are an excellent idea for aging in place. Doorways 36” wide and hallways 42” wide will allow you to move comfortably through your home should walking aids be required in the future.

Interior Design Ideas for Aging in Place and Accessibility

Preventing Slips & Falls with Smart Installations

Slips and falls can become more dangerous as people get older. One of the best investments is to install sufficient grab bars in bathroom areas and especially shower enclosures. Choosing nonslip flooring when renovating a room or entire home can help prevent slips as well. Materials that have some give to them, such as wood, cork, rubber, or vinyl, are better options than hard materials like tile or stone for main traffic areas. In showers or bathrooms where tile may be necessary, focus on choosing a tile with some texture rather than a smooth surface, which will become very slippery when wet.

Placement of Laundry Room

Hauling laundry around the house is another thing that gets harder as we get older. Keep this in mind when designing the space. Placing the laundry room close to the bedrooms will help ensure you maintain your independence.

Accommodate Access for Walkers/Wheelchairs

If you’re adding a deck, make it accessible in case a walker or wheelchair is necessary in the future. Eliminate steps and make the doorway wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair so you can enjoy the outdoors for years to come.

Safety & Accessibility within Bathrooms

Think wide doorways and no steps for bathrooms as well. A barrier-free or “curbless shower” is an elegant, timeless look that creates a large, luxurious shower that you can walk, or roll, into. There are also walk-in bathtubs available that are easy for anyone to get into. A lower vanity or free-standing sink are other options, along with touchless faucets and toilets.

Mobility & Accessibility in the Kitchen

In the kitchen, consider installing pull-out drawers rather than cabinets, lowering countertops, and leaving space under the counter. When making your selections, remember that faucets with levers are easier to use than those with knobs. Also think about the space between the island and the counter. Will there be enough room to move comfortably and safely around it if a walker or wheelchair is required down the road?

Be Smart & Future-Proof Your Home!

If being able to stay in your home and have your independence is important to you, design features that will help you do that now, when you have the time, money, and health to do so. While you can always install grab bars and other helpful things later, undertaking a major renovation in your later years will be stressful.

If you’re renovating or building now, it’s easy to create a checklist that allows you to design for the future as well as for today.