I spent two full days last weekend completing Certified Aging In Place Specialist (CAPS) training. The idea of designing and adapting a home so that everyone, particularly those who desire to remain in their homes as they age, is an important subject just beginning to gain interest in home buyers minds. Aging In Place has a rather negative connotation but in reality, it is forward thinking and smart to invest in. Aging In Place is related to Universal Design. What specifically is Universal Design? Many times, the notion of grab bars and those big bathroom stalls come to mind but that is just a small part of Universal Design. Universal Design itself is a great thing: it is the notion of accessibility for all, not just the handicapped or wheelchair bound population. In home remodeling and design, it is the idea of making the home as accessible (read easily navigated, intuitive, and easy to figure out) as a space possible. The idea of Aging In Place takes this notion and makes it even more personalized to those who live in the home.
Aging In Place design takes into account the safety and comfort of those living in the space. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be a senior yourself, it could be that you have a friend who comes by and you would like your home to be visitable. Maybe you have an aging parent that sometimes visits or maybe something has happened and an aging relative is going to live in the space with you or you, yourself have become limited in some way and you would like to make your home more comfortable and livable now and down the road. Aging In Place Design helps to create a space that makes living easier, for you and for someone coming into the space.
You have probably noticed that our population is aging. Baby Boomers (born between 1947 and 1964) are entering the stages in their lives where they are considering the future: their future and even their parent’s futures. Many Baby Boomers are becoming their parents caretakers and some are just looking ahead to prepare their homes so that they can retire in their homes comfortably and safely. Aging In Place takes these concepts into consideration and provides some basic guidelines for safety and comfort. It should be noted that each living situation is separate and unique and can not be evaluated just from this article but there are a few things that should be considered basic design considerations when looking to either re-design the current living situation or evaluate a new living situation.
Some things to look for or consider when evaluating a home for safety and comfort include:
· At least one entrance that is on the level (no steps to navigate)
· The entrance that will be used should be at least three foot wide
· The hallways to the main areas like the kitchen, living, bathroom and bedroom areas should be at least three feet wide.
· There should be ample lighting or the ability to add extra lighting in the hallways, kitchen, bathrooms, and living areas.
· A master bedroom and bathroom on the main floor is a good idea or the ability to add one in the future if circumstances require it.
The above items are just a few of the things that should be considered if choosing to remain in the home for the long term. The AARP site has a link to locate a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) who can help you specifically with your own home design recommendations. Each family has unique needs and situations that can be evaluated. Those trained in this particular area have extensive knowledge that can help you with your needs. Not all recommendations and Aging In Place modifications require extensive remodeling. Remember that Aging In Place is really about making your home safe and comfortable for you and everyone in your home.