There use to be a time when people would live in their dream home, raise their kids in the perfect neighborhood, and downsize when the nest is empty. Well, that way of doing things is shifting with today’s older population. Seniors are becoming more active and are more inclined to remained in their home where so many memories were created. This fast growing phenomenon is something that many are terming, “aging in place“.
What is age in place?
Aging in place in simple terms is continuing to live in the same place you have lived for most of your adult life. As people become older they’re concerned about maybe having to leave their home and their independence. Majority of American senior citizens have a strong desire to stay in their homes for the remainder of their lives. But to do this, there must be forward thinking and successful planning in the design of your home.
Most home plans are designed with young and healthy adults in mind. Not much thought is put into the long term age-related conditions such as mobility and reach limitations. As a result, living in your home for life becomes a challenge as your age increases. In this stage of your life, you’d rather not think about retro-fitting your home to meet basic living needs. However, this is the case a lot of times. Rather, we should consider designing a house for the elderly to live comfortably as a standard practice to make aging in place easy.
Aging in place made easy
If you are designing your dream home to raise your family and live out your golden years, age in place home design or universal design for homes should be a part of the design criteria. So you may be asking, how do I plan and design for aging in place? The ideas are plenty, but below are a few key items to get you going in the right direction.
- Use a minimum 32″ wide door in as many rooms as possible including bathrooms
- Utilize door lever handles instead of knobs
- 42″ minimum hallways and corridors for wheelchairs
- Use mixed height base cabinet in the kitchen and bath with areas that can accept wheelchairs
- If you have a two story house plan consider a residential elevator
- In two story homes, add a spacious guest bedroom on the main floor with a full bath or consider a master bedroom suite on both floors.
As you can see, planning for age in place home design is not a difficult task to handle. All that is required is a little forward thinking is implemented. On top of using these ideas with custom home designs, some of these actions along with other options can be applied to pre-designed house plans through plan modifications as well as retro-fitted in existing homes through renovations and remodeling your home. In either case, consult with a qualified building designer to explore the possibilities.