The coming decades will see nearly 80 million baby boomers reach retirement age. Couple that with an ever-increasing life expectancy and a low birth rate, and we’ll be seeing a dramatic increase in the percentage of Americans who are over the age of 65. Even for those who work hard at staying healthy, aging comes with unique challenges and limitations.
When asked by the AARP, 71% of homeowners of any age indicated they’d prefer to “age in place,” and 87% of adults aged 65 and over want to stay in their current home as they age. If their desires are to be met, homes will need to be built or renovated to meet changing needs.
A Universal Design Concept
Universal design is a term often used instead of aging in place, but the concepts are the same. Universal design is about designing living spaces (and products) that are simple, safe, and more convenient for a wide range of people, not just those with physical limitations. Also known as “barrier free design,” it originally evolved from an approach that addressed the requirements of people with disabilities, but today it means so much more. Modern universal design recognizes the vast spectrum of abilities that each individual, even the most able-bodied, experiences during childhood, old age, or through injury or illness.
Universal design goes beyond grab bars and ramps, and makes life easier for everyone living in the house.
Home Renovation Ideas
Luckily, today’s savvy designers have come up with home renovation ideas for aging in place that are both stylish and comfortable. If you’re currently planning to renovate your home and want to include some aging in place elements in your design, here are some basic fixes to consider:
- Install outlets and switches that can be reached from a transport or wheelchair, typically two to four feet from floor level.
- Widen or design hallways to be at least 42 inches wide and make doorways 32 to 36 inches wide. The extra space will not only accommodate wheelchairs, but make the space look lighter and more spacious.
- Include at least one full bathroom on your home’s main level.
- For laundry rooms, install front loading machines and multiple-height counters.
- Design thresholds no higher than a quarter inch, or eliminate them.
- Don’t forget your home’s exterior. Create at least one entry that has no steps. From automatic lighting to lever-style door handles, planning ahead will help you reduce outdoor maintenance and upkeep.
Aging in place kitchen solutions include multiple counter heights, cooktops and sinks with legroom for a seated user, lever handles, clear cabinet doors and open shelves.
Design for All
At Foley, we focus on thoughtful design and innovative technology to create aging in place spaces that meet your ever-changing needs and lifestyle. We believe the best approach is one that considers the way you and your family live throughout your entire lives. If you’re currently thinking about building a custom home, it’s a good idea to keep universal design concepts in mind, no matter how young and healthy you may now be. Whether you live in your new home for the rest of your life, or decide to sell and move on, aging in place features can greatly increase your home’s value. Contact us today to learn more about our aging in place philosophy.