Is Your Home Senior Friendly?

April 13, 2011

Seniors explore options in home modifications while maintaining independence


How do you say “senior friendl”?  Age-in-place design.  Universal Design.  Adaptive design.   

We talk often about developing a plan to help our seniors maintain an independent lifestyle.  We discuss medical information, financial planning, and developing a care plan should our seniors need additional help at home.

With a little help from the National Aging in Place Council, let’s take a tour of a typical home and see if there are small adaptations that we can make in order for our seniors to live more independently.  Some adaptations can be made with new hardware while some adaptations require minor to extensive remodeling. 

Ideally, some kitchen and bathroom designs could be placed during construction or remodeling.  However, a few revisions can be made so that our seniors have better use of their space.

Universally, lighting is a topic that all seniors should ultimately address — either for comfort or safety.  Some enhancements include:

  • Adding adjustable light controls or rocker light switches at a lower wall level
  • Increasing lighting while decreasing glare; use matte finishes and avoid glossy finishes
  • Adding task lighting
  • Rearranging furniture to take full advantage of lighting features
  • Adding visual and tactile textures to differentiate between changes in surfaces.

Now, let’s tour the rest of the home!

Entryway – Barrier-free entry with no-step threshold

Bathrooms – If considering renovations, evaluate the use of roll-in showers and knee clearance beneath sinks.  An elevated toilet and grab bars are easy additions to a home bathroom.  Also, highlighting changes in elevation with contrasting tape helps when depth perception is a problem.

Bedroom – Rearrange furniture to allow for ample floor space and add closet rods at varying heights.

Kitchen – If possible, vary the height of kitchen countertops and include knee clearance beneath the sink.  Lower cooktop surfaces and built-in microwaves. Include a work area with knee space.

Outdoors – If gardening is a favorite hobby, install raised gardening tables and provide a smooth, clear pathway.

Although some of these recommendations are based on the expectation of a wheelchair being used in the home, all are good suggestions for anyone with limited vision or other physical limitations.

For more information on aging-in-place design, visit National Aging in Place Council (NAIPC) for local resources in Houston.

Have you modified your home to accommodate a loved one?  Share your details in our caregiver forum!

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