It’s no surprise that aging in place design has become a hot topic as of late. The aging population in North America is on the rise, with seniors in Canada projected to increase from 4.5 million to 9.8 million between 2005 and 2036, and seniors in the U.S. projected to reach 98 million by 2060.
It is important for home designers to have the knowledge and expertise required to design accessible, comfortable and safe spaces so that seniors can live independently and with dignity in their own homes. It takes special training to accommodate individuals with specific needs, and this post is meant to help guide home designers in the right direction.
We’ve prepared an aging in place design checklist to make sure you cover all the most important design rules when pitching your ideas to a potential client. You need to make your client feel at ease and that the layouts and designs you’re proposing are meant to help them live in their homes for as long as possible.
The Ultimate Aging in Place Design Checklist
Before going into the aging in place design checklist for each specific room, here’s a list of the overall rules you should follow when designing a space for accessibility and safety. These rules apply to any room, including the general layout of the house.
Open floor plan with few obstructions
New lighting systems
Specific colors (proper contrasting to aid with depth perception)
Wider doorways (min. 36 inches)
No throw rugs (tripping hazard)
Lever-style door handles
It is extremely important to customize a bathroom for someone who is aging or has disabilities because bathrooms are prone to causing accidents. Due to their ceramic flooring and slippery surfaces, bathrooms are the cause of roughly 235,000 nonfatal injuries in the U.S. alone per year.
Adjusting toilet height or installing a seat extender
Grab bars near toilet and in bath/shower
Anti-slip coating in tub/shower
Slip-resistant floor treatment
When re-designing a kitchen for the elderly, you want to ensure ease of use and fluidity. You should not install cabinets that your client cannot reach, and you need to make sure all appliances are properly positioned so that your client doesn’t have to move around too much.
Adjusting height of sink
Storage inside refrigerator door
Front-mounted controls on cooktop
D-shaped cabinet pulls
Round edges for countertops
Sink close to stove
Microwave at counter height
Bedroom & Closet Design
Getting in and out of bed and getting dressed can be a hassle for anyone who has a disability or for elderly people with back or hip problems. Home designers should consider all these factors when designing a bedroom for aging in place.
Bedroom on main level
Low-profile bed (20-23” from top of mattress to the floor)
Nightstands placed at same height as bed
Phone beside bed
Adequate clearance around bed
Pull-down closet rods
Lighting in closet
Laundry Room Design
This aging in place design checklist wouldn’t be complete without tips for designing a laundry room. Doing laundry for the mobility-impaired is difficult as it is, so you should design the room as best you can to ensure an easy and smooth process.
Laundry room near bedroom
Front load washer and dryer
Washer & dryer raised 12-15 inches above floor
Easy to read controls
Lower upper cabinets
Laundry chute if multi-level house
Longer lasting LED lights
Clear pathway between bedroom and bathroom
Chair lift on stairs
For more information on aging in place, visit the Living in Place Institute website.
Article adapted from https://www.2020spaces.com/blog-aging-in-place-design-checklist/