How to Stay in Your Home as You Age

The goal of designing a home for Living in Place is to allow our clients to stay in their homes and live independently and safely for as long as possible. 

Here are some things to consider when planning a remodel for Aging in Place:

Accessibility
Are there stairs at the entry points? Is there a bedroom and full bath on the ground floor? 

Lighting
What is the age and quality of the lighting? As we age we need more light to see and we need greater color contrast to aid with depth perception which can aid in decreasing accidents. 

Open Floor Plan
Is the floor plan open and doorways and hallways wide enough for walkers or wheelchairs? An open floorpan will make it easier to navigate and a 36” doorway is recommended. 

Door Levers
Do doors have lever handles rather than knobs? Things like door levers are easy to replace, widening hallways, not so much. 

Bathroom
The bathroom is the area of the home I have most frequently remodeled for accessibility. It is the most intimate space in our home and the one we use first thing in the morning and last thing before bed. Sometimes a few times during the night! It is where more accidents can happen and where most surfaces are hard so we seek to minimize obstructions and maximize safety. 

There are many products and options for customization that will enhance safety and functionality and still be beautiful:

Stability Bars
These are now being produced by our high end bath fixture manufacturers to coordinate with their plumbing collections and accessories. It is important that the bars be positioned with proper backing to support the client’s weight and preference for leverage. We have installed bars horizontally, vertically and at an angle depending upon the clients preferences and needs.

A Walk in Shower
A walk in shower with no threshold and either a built in bench or a drop down seat allows for greater accessibility with either a walker or wheelchair. 

Toilets
Toilet options are available for adjustable heights and with cleansing options that aid in sanitation and comfort.

Hands Free Faucet + Roll Up Vanity
If needed a hands free faucet can be installed and roll up vanity customized to allow access to all toiletries. For one client we also installed a custom tilted mirror so she could see herself better in her chair. For another we designed a lifting mirrored door so she could have ready access to her make up at her seated vanity.

Lighting
Lighting options to consider include under vanity toe kick lighting on a sensor that will turn on and gently illuminate the floor when you get up at night.

Lighted Magnifying Mirrors
These mirrors are a great tool and a hardwired option keeps cords out of the way if a remodel is undertaken. 

Of course each client has their own specific requirements and challenges so we are not necessarily creating a Universal Design solution. At Lori Ramsay Design, we tailor our design to the individual needs of our clients. 

Check out our accessible bath projects:

Plenty of both artificial lighting and natural lighting are provided using recessed cans, vanity sconces, windows and a skylight.  The tile floor is laid in a herringbone pattern throughout the bath in a slip resistant porcelain. As it moves into the shower the pattern becomes staggered so that the slope to the drain is maintained and there is no dam or threshold for the client to step over.

Plenty of both artificial lighting and natural lighting are provided using recessed cans, vanity sconces, windows and a skylight.

The tile floor is laid in a herringbone pattern throughout the bath in a slip resistant porcelain. As it moves into the shower the pattern becomes staggered so that the slope to the drain is maintained and there is no dam or threshold for the client to step over.

Since this was an addition to an existing home, the client was able to create a laundry closet in the bath area. This provides easy access for laundry with the closet just through the double doors.

Since this was an addition to an existing home, the client was able to create a laundry closet in the bath area. This provides easy access for laundry with the closet just through the double doors.

The frosted glass panel provides both access and privacy.

The frosted glass panel provides both access and privacy.

Before: Our client was unable to safely use her shower area. We removed the glass and the dam and created a fully accessible shower and made the space a wet room.

Before: Our client was unable to safely use her shower area. We removed the glass and the dam and created a fully accessible shower and made the space a wet room.

After: Plenty of bars are positioned to allow our client to navigate the space independently.

After: Plenty of bars are positioned to allow our client to navigate the space independently.

Before. From cramped and unaccessible…

Before. From cramped and unaccessible…

After: …to bright and spacious. Our custom roll up vanity provides our client who uses a scooter ready access to everything she needs at the vanity.

After: …to bright and spacious. Our custom roll up vanity provides our client who uses a scooter ready access to everything she needs at the vanity.

This luxury master suite addition included a french door access to the roll in shower so that an assistant could bathe the client as they sat in the drop down teak bench. The teak is a warmer and more comfortable option that most tile or hard surface benches. The Hand Held Shower allows for easy bathing and is mounted on a support bar that coordinates with the other fixtures in the bath.

This luxury master suite addition included a french door access to the roll in shower so that an assistant could bathe the client as they sat in the drop down teak bench. The teak is a warmer and more comfortable option that most tile or hard surface benches. The Hand Held Shower allows for easy bathing and is mounted on a support bar that coordinates with the other fixtures in the bath.