Remodeling Your Home to Age in Place

The Environments for Aging Conference held in April was full of design and remodeling ideas for all types of senior living.  From nursing facilities to planned communities, all forms and functions seemed to be addressed in hundreds of sessions related to senior living strategies.   Many of the solutions were based on studies of the aging brain, body and senses.  One of particular interest was the study of Neuroarchitecture.  The session translated research findings from neuroscience and psycho-physiology to design and architectural applications.  Their result was the “sensthetic,” or how designs can be planned based on what we know about the aging brain and our senses.

Whether you need all this research to support remodeling your home, or if you simply want to take some common sense strategies from a building expert, these design tips will help you make your home more “user friendly” as you plan.

  • Remodel to have all the living essentials on one floor.  That means first floor master bedroom and bath, as well as kitchen, family room and laundry.  The second floor can be the guest rooms for those younger visitors who can easily navigate the stairs.
  • Keep the floorplan open – this will accommodate any mobility devices like wheelchairs, scooters or walkers.  Where doors are necessary, make sure the doorways are wide enough for these devices. 
  • First floor entrance access is a must – remodel your entry way so that there are ramps or even grading to get into the home.
  • Think about safety and convenience.  Floors should be seamless between rooms to avoid tripping or falls; counters and cabinets should be at an accessible height for someone sitting in a wheelchair; and bathrooms should incorporate shower seats, non-slip showers and flooring and grab bars.  These don’t need to be hospital-grade – they can blend with the design if carefully chosen.

Study the brain and the aging process as much as you want — or simply think about your own living comfort and what makes sense.