Aging in Place: What You Need to Know

aging-in-placeAging in Place means proactively creating a home environment that can adapt to you as you grow older, giving you the comfort of staying in your familiar surroundings as long as you choose. Whether retrofitting your existing home or building a new home, here’s what you need to know about aging in place.

Since most homes aren’t built with the elderly in mind, they can present hazards as we age, like slippery showers, poorly-lit rooms and facilities located in inconvenient areas. Therefore, if you are building a home, you may want to incorporate features for aging in place, also known as Universal Design, into the plans.

For many, preparing a home for aging in place is ideal, and you may have already thought about how you can plan ahead. When doing so, consider which retrofits or installations you might need, as well as who can implement those changes. Some you may be able to do yourself; others may need a professional.

Retrofitting your Home for Aging in Place

To adapt your current home to allow you to age gracefully in place, there are several modifications you may want to make or install, keeping safety and accessibility in mind. Common retrofits for aging in place include:

  • Handrails and railings for all steps
  • Grab bars and non-slip surfaces in tubs and showers
  • Lever door handles for easier grip at entries and exits
  • C- and D-shaped handles and faucets for smoother use
  • Widened doors and hallways to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers
  • Better lighting and more fixtures to support poorer vision
  • Connecting electrical functions to a remote control for easier use
  • Lowering countertops and cabinets

Designing a Home for Aging in Place

When building a home, designing it for aging in place will increase your home’s value as well as add safety features. Consider the above retrofits when making your plans, and install smart home features that can be accessed remotely. Additionally, during construction planning, think about building at least one no-step entrance and include a full bathroom on all floors. You may want a room on the main floor that can later be converted to a bedroom as well.

When choosing flooring materials, choose options that won’t create slippery or uneven surfaces that can cause tripping hazards. Avoid carpets as they can slide and are easy to stumble on.

Who to Hire: Aging in Place Specialists

You have options when hiring someone to make modifications or build with aging in place in mind. Perhaps the most obvious people to hire are Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS). CAPS are trained to anticipate the needs of our older adult population and are adept at implementing solutions and modifications needed to ensure comfortable aging in place. The program for CAPS certification was created as a collaboration of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), American Association of Retired People (AARP, the NAHB Research Center, and the NAHB Seniors Housing Council. This backing ensures that those who attain CAPS are well versed in all areas of aging in place construction.

Other professionals who can assist you plan for aging in place are Certified Graduate Remodelers (CGR) and Graduate Master Remodelers (GMR). They too have been trained to build and renovate for older residents’ safety, independence and comfort. Additionally, many health care providers have staff members who can look at your plans or walk through your house and offer helpful suggestions.

Contact Först Consulting Group

If you need more information about aging in place, need a construction expert to review your building or remodeling plans, or need consulting help in selecting a qualified contractor, contact Först Consulting Group. We are here as your homeowner advocate to help you make all the right decisions when it comes to building or remodeling your home—or talking about what you need to know about aging in place.

Först Consulting Group serves homeowners throughout Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., and can help you make the right decisions – and avoid the wrong decisions – about aging in place now and in your future. Contact us today.

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