home: universal designs for aging in place
Developers at Brunswick
Forest have collaborated with
builders to improve home
designs to meet boomers’
aging in place needs.
images courtesy brunswick forest
For more information on aging in place, try these helpful sites:
www.aarp.org Contains numerous articles on universal design
www.asid.org The American Society for Interior Designers
The NAHB has implemented a Certified Aging in Place Specialist Program that offers certification
courses. Go to
www.nahb.org/category.aspx?sectionID=686 for more details.
www.design.ncsu.edu/cud The Center for Universal Design
Part of the College of Design at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC, the Center is a national
research, information and technical assistance center that evaluates, develops and promotes accessible
and universal design in housing, buildings, outdoor and urban environments and related products.
Limit the number of steps in your
It’s easy to trip and fall on 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.
Open Floor Plan
Limit the number of hallways in your
home. An open floor plan with great room,
dining area and open kitchen creates
not only a spacious feeling, but enables
easy access for all. Hallways should be at
least 42” wide or wider.
Consider eliminating an island to provide more room to move around. Install
more floor cabinets and fewer upper
cabinets. Manufacturers also make easy to
use pull-down upper cabinets. Use pull-out
shelves in the pantry.
Vary counter heights to accommodate
standing or sitting. Elevate dishwashers 8”
above the floor to facilitate loading and
unloading. Use wide kitchen chairs with
high seats and strong wooden arms and
a kitchen table without corners.
Consider using smaller appliances,
where appropriate, that are lightweight and
easier to grip. Double door refrigerators
with easy-to-grip handles work well.
A helpful tip for filling a pot with water—
install a water spigot with a movable arm
at the stove. Think of how much easier it
would be to fill a pot of water in place.
And, make sure the controls are on the
front of the stove.