Aging in place, universal design, age-friendly communities: Whether your family needs the support now or down the road, universal design features are a good long-term investment for the home itself. So what does an age-friendly home look like? AARP.org outlines the most important elements of universal design:
- No-step entry: You should have at least one step-free entrance (either at the front, back, or side of the house) so everyone, including wheelchair users, can enter the home easily and safely.
- Wide doorways and hallways: A doorway that is at least 36 inches wide is great when you’re bringing home a new mattress or couch, but it’s even better when someone you care for, or a regularly visiting friend or family member, is in a wheelchair. Also, hallways that are 42 inches wide are good for multigenerational family members with varying “mobilities.”
- One-floor living: Access to essential rooms without the use of stairs makes life more convenient and safe for residents ages 0 to 100.
- Easily accessible controls and switches: A person in a wheelchair can reach light switches that are 42-48 inches above the floor. Thermostats should be placed no higher than 48 inches off the floor, and electrical outlets 18-24 inches off the floor.
- Easy-to-use handles: Consider replacing twist/turn doorknobs and faucets with lever- style handles for (painless) ease of use. Read more about the advantages of Aging in Place and Universal design here.