42 choose your ideal place
Universal Design for Aging in Place
“It’s all about me.” Your home
should be all about you. Universal
design creates livable, workable environments for everyone, regardless of
age, size or ability. Universal design is
human-centered design that makes
life easier, not only for those with
mobility limitations, but also for
those who are short, tall, young, and
old. Universal design is for everyone.
According to a recent survey by
the National Association of Home
Builders (NAHB), approximately
two-thirds of Baby Boomers wish to
“age in place.” Thanks to the advancements of universal design, it is now
possible to “age in place” with style.
However, it is important to note that
aging in place may not be possible in
your current home. Many existing
homes, or the home that you might
be living in now, were not designed
to accommodate the changing capabilities and needs of their owners.
Boomers around the country now
seek homes that can accommodate
their current and future needs so they
can “age in place” in a new home designed with them in mind.
Hanley Wood’s survey revealed that
Boomers prefer a smaller, more luxurious, one-level floor plan that is high-tech, functional, low-maintenance and
energy-efficient. Creating a comfortable, flexible space is paramount and
it’s affordable. NAHB surveys found
that a one to two percent increase can
create a very accessible home in new
In the past, visions of “universal
design” conjured thoughts of un-
sightly grab bars in bathrooms, chair
lifts and ramps. Fortunately, today’s
designers and homebuilders incor-
porate beautifully stylish elements
that you would never suspect.
Consider incorporating these
ideas when planning your new home:
Low-maintenance exteriors of
brick, stucco or composite materials
reduce painting and repair. For landscaping, try planting low maintenance shrubs and plants that require
the water available through rainfall
only (xeriscaping). Or, you may want
to consider purchasing in a neighborhood that offers maintenance-free landscaping.
Limit the number of steps in
It’s easy to trip and fall with even
a small step into the home. Use
gradual ramps (that don’t look like
a ramp) to get from the driveway or
garage into the home.
One-level living makes it easier for all ages. Climbing stairs for
grandchildren can even be problematic. Or, if you prefer a multi-level
home, consider installing an elevator.
Windows & Doors
Choose wider doors ( 36” minimum on entry doors) with levered
door handles. It’s easier to just push
down than to turn a knob. Consider
keyless entry. Entry doors should
contain a sidelight (providing privacy and safety). Place doorbells at an
accessible height and include a sensor light at the entry. Crank-opened
windows are also preferable.