18 Aging In Place Features To include in Your Home
Aging Americans want to be independent for as long as possible which boils down to their ability to maintain and thrive in their homes. Yet, many of the homes we live in today are not designed to accommodate aging in place safely and comfortably.
What Aging In Place Features Should you Consider For Your Home?
Throughout The House
As we age many of the most common household mechanisms we use can be challenging once our mobility declines.
When installing fixtures for your home consider these options:
- Door levers over door knobs.
- Rocker panel light switches instead of a toggle switch.
- LED light bulbs do not need to be changed as often and are easier on the eyes.
- Indirect lighting is also much easier on the eyes.
- Window units that are easy to open and close (awning types are best).
- Power everything from a remote or smartphone whenever possible (eg door locks, lighting, thermostat, etc.).
- Consider installing electrical outlets at 18-24 inches off the ground to avoid having to bend over as far.
When choosing flooring options that are aging-friendly you want to consider softer and smoother surfaces that will be easy on the joints and won’t pose a tripping hazard. Surfaces like cork, rubber, and linoleum are preferred. It is important to keep the level of the floor even. When a level surface isn’t obtainable, mark the transition with a color, texture, or material change. For example, a carpet leading up the stairs.
- Soft smooth floors (e.g. cork, rubber, and linoleum).
- Mark unleveled surfaces with a different color, texture, or material.
The shower is one place that is relatively easy to design for an aging body. Some type of bench to sit on and installing adjustable shower heads with a handheld wand makes showering a much more manageable task. The shower can be one of the most important aspects for preserving the emotional wellbeing and sense of dignity for aging seniors.
If you are designing your own bathroom, then you may want to consider going with a no-threshold or walk-in shower and incorporating a bench or seat. A non-slippery surface or adding some type of texturing should also be considered.
Normal towel bars are not designed to support body weight, however, there are a number of quality grab bars on the market designed to serve as towel bars.
You also want to make sure to set your water heater/thermostat to a comfortable level to avoid scalding. The Aging in Place guide recommends a maximum water temperature of 120 degrees.
- Some type of shower seat
- Adjustable showerhead with a handheld wand
- No-threshold or walk-in shower design
- Non-slippery surfaces
- Grab bars instead or regular towel bars
- Set your water heater to a maximum of 120 degrees
Consider having an island where you will be able to sit and prepare meals. Standing for long periods can be taxing on an aging body and having the ability to sit down while in the kitchen provides a much higher level of freedom as we age. You can even go a step further and feature an island on wheels that can be repositioned to allow a wheelchair or walker to pass by.
Remember to keep the cabinets away from the stove as this poses an obvious hazard when you have to lean over a hot surface to access them, especially when our balance begins to deteriorate.
Drawers are easier to access than cabinets typically, which is why we recommend installing drawers in place of lower cabinets beneath your countertops.
- An island where you can sit down to prepare meals (consider wheels to allow for more access for a wheelchair).
- No cabinets above the stove.
- Drawers over cabinets.
For more information, consult The Rogue Valley Council of Government’s Lifelong Housing Certification Project website.
Our Commitment To Include Aging In Place Features In KDA Homes
Here at KDA Homes, we like to think differently about home design and are proud to be recognized as a certified Lifelong Housing builder. Whenever possible, we incorporate Lifelong Housing design standards into the homes we build. Throughout the planning process, we consider every stage of our homebuyers life cycle and do everything we can to make a home that is comfortable, safe and livable at any age. It’s our way of ensuring that the families and individuals who buy our homes can age in place safely and independently. You can learn more about our commitment to building quality homes here.