Designing a Home for Aging In Place

In this Central Iowa Residence, most of the rooms are located on the main level with the option of adding more rooms in its unfinished basement. Click here to view the photo gallery.

Designing your dream home is an exciting challenge as you imagine yourself sitting in your new great room next to a crackling fire soaking in the scenery just beyond the windows. What you may not immediately envision is how your lifestyle may change as you age. Incorporating elements into a home’s design that will allow you to gracefully age in place is a crucial step to ensuring you can enjoy this beautiful, new home for years to come.

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For those unfamiliar with the term “Aging in Place,” this blog shares the importance of putting together a plan to prepare for future contingencies. “Aging in Place” is used to describe a person who is living in the home of their choice for as long as they are able while they age. The individual is able to maintain their quality of life through the careful planning. This planning requires that the home’s layout and features lend themselves to a healthy and independent lifestyle when health restrictions would otherwise make it impossible. [1] [2]

Aging in Place Statistics

The layout of the Jackson County Residence was configured with an area designated for a future elevator. Click here to view the photo gallery.

The concept of aging in place has recently grown in popularity as a result of studies from sources like the U.S. Census Bureau which estimates the number of Americans over the age of 65 will reach 71.5 million by the year 2030. This number represents nearly 20-percent of the entire population projected for the U.S. in 2030. In addition, articles, like one found in the AARP magazine, state that 90-percent of Americans 65 or older plan to live out the remainder of their lives in their homes. If retirees wish to safely stay in their homes, they must design their homes to accommodate these wishes. [1] [3]

While nobody wants to dwell on the thought of aging and the loss of functionality that inevitably follows, it is important to plan for the future before it makes plans for you. Offensively planning for aging in place means keeping your future health, safety, convenience, and independence top of mind when designing your home. Fortunately, at PrecisionCraft, we make it easy to design a beautiful home that accommodates aging in place, no matter what that looks like for you.

Planning for Aging in Place

Like in any PrecisionCraft project, the first decision to make is the location of your home. When you choose to age in place, consider access to your home. Is it a long way from town? Will it require a long driveway or lots of walkways? Consider incorporating elements into the design now, like a heated driveway or covered walkways, to minimize shoveling and minimize icy conditions which can pose a fall hazard.

Another major decision will be the overall layout and style of your home. Keeping in mind the possibility of mobility issues arising in the future; designing a single-story home may be the best option. For those who envision a multi-level home, placing the master bedroom on the main level with the rest of the living spaces, or incorporating room to install an elevator in the future may be a welcome option. Doing so will ensure a higher level of safety and independence further down the road.

Other Considerations

This kitchen from the Meadow Creek Residence presents an excellent example of creating a place to sit while preparing food. Click here to view the photo gallery.

There are other, more general additions to consider including in a home designed for aging in place. An electronic door chime is an excellent way to help you keep track of the comings and goings in your home. The electronic chime will come in handy no matter whether you are tracking the elderly or grandchildren. In addition, using levers on doors rather than knobs can help protect sore joints that lack mobility. This applies to incorporating pulls instead of knobs on drawers as well.

As we age, we tend to lose the quality of our eyesight. When this happens, having a home with plenty of indirect and natural light becomes increasingly important to maintain proper depth perception and prevent falls. Finally, it is also important to maintain hobbies and activities as you age. Why not design a space dedicated to your hobbies? Think of it as designating a place for your growth and the pursuit of your interests. [5]

Room Specific Considerations

In the kitchen and dining room, there are many opportunities to plan for the future. As suggested by Architectural Digest, placing drawers under countertops instead of lower cabinets will make items more easily accessible. To plan for a time when loss of one’s balance could result in a serious injury, it is best to not place cabinets over the stove. Additionally, installing a wall oven that opens to the side rather than to the front can decrease potential accidents. For those who especially love to spend time cooking and baking, creating a space in the kitchen to sit down as you prepare meals can relieve sore joints when it is most needed. Finally, to prepare for the possibility of wheelchair use, your plans might include an island on wheels to make it easier to navigate the kitchen. [4]

This bathroom in the Steamboat Springs Residence is a great representation of a walk-in shower with different floor and wall tiles. Click here to view the photo gallery.

Bathrooms are another important part of the home to which to pay special attention. For many elderly people, a bathroom can hold the highest potential for falls and other accidents. Ways to decrease these risks include:

  • installing a no-threshold or walk-in shower
  • a step-through tub
  • building a seat in the shower
  • adding grab bars
  • using an adjustable shower head with a handheld wand
  • installing different tiles for the floor and walls to help with visibility and depth perception

These simple additions can make life easier and safer whilst maintaining your desired style. [5]

Why Now Is The Time To Incorporate Aging In Place

It is never too early to incorporate aging in place into the design of your home, even if you aren’t the primary beneficiary right now. As family structures shift and change, having a home that accommodates people in all stages of life becomes increasingly important. Creating space in your home to meet the needs of whoever might be under your roof is not only a great way to keep your loved ones close, it will also make them feel welcome. Utilizing an aging-in-place plan is the way to do that.


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