Aging in Place

Aging in place is the ability to live alone in your own home as you grow older, without needing to move in with family or to an assisted living facility.

Americans of all ages value their ability to live independently. But without a plan for aging in place, it can be hard to stay in control of your life as you grow older. Knowing your health risks and financial options can make a big difference in your ability to stay in a familiar place.

Designing for aging in place involves modifying your existing home to fit your needs as they come along. Most commonly, it involves creating a living space that is barrier free, which creates rooms, entrances, and locations that minimize or eliminate barriers like stairs or steps, steep elevations or slopes, thresholds greater than ½”, and small, cluttered passages that just don’t work. The goal is to design a living space that will increase use, safety, security, and independence for you as you age.

Adaptable Design

Adaptable design for aging in place focuses on the individual differences of people and changes in a homeowner’s physical capability over time. It includes the ability of certain building features, such as kitchen counters, sinks, and grab bars, to be added, raised, lowered, or changed to accommodate the needs of either people with or without disabilities, or to accommodate the needs of people with different types or degrees of disability.

Many times, multiple generations of family members want to live together. Designing a home in such a way that parents and grandparents can continue to be a part of the family’s daily interaction, yet have their own independence and space with a separate entrance, is critical to mental health, physical strength and overall happiness in the aging process. It also creates a stronger bond with children and grandchildren.

Other Designs for Aging in Place

In addition to adaptable design, there are three other basic categories of design for aging in place as defined by the National Association of Home Builders:

  • Universal Design – Focuses on as much of the population as possible by designing space and products that can be used by those with and without disabilities.
  • Accessible Design – Focuses on people with a disability by designing a space you can get around in with ease and comfort.
  • Visitability Design – Focuses on wheelchair accessibility and works to create a path to or from ground floors.