Aging gracefully starts with an accepting mindset toward your physical changes.
Many people gradually develop joint pain and stiffness associated with conditions like arthritis and Fibromyalgia. This can make gripping, turning, and flipping switches and fixtures difficult. Others wind up needing to utilize a walking aid like a stand-up walker or wheelchair, which can leave those handles and switches just out of reach.
One of the best ways to deal with these issues is to utilize aging in place home design. You might find yourself bracing against “practical” (read: unflattering) additions and refurbishings. But elderly-friendly home design doesn’t have to shout, “Hey, a senior citizen lives here!”
We’ve actually found that giving a traditional home a sleek, modern makeover can still satisfy the needs of aging in place. If this fills you with a mixture of curiosity and hope, read on!
Aging in Place Home Design
Start with Your Priorities
When you begin the aging in place home design process, try not to get overwhelmed with the idea of changing your entire home. You don’t need to do that! Instead, renovate it to fit your needs in small, affordable steps.
We like to start with first-floor consolidation. In other words, all your daily spaces reside on the first floor of the home. This addresses most of the main concerns for many clients.
For example, we might start by shifting a second-story master bedroom downstairs. From there, we would work to create the most streamlined path from master to bathroom to kitchen — so you can accomplish everyday tasks with safety and ease.
Bathroom and lighting design are often where we next focus. In both cases, we would revamp fixtures and spaces to reduce slip and trip hazards.
Technology and universal design products play a pivotal role in residential design for aging in place. We employ these to make your living space more usable and attractive.
How exactly does this work? Let’s get into the details below.
Interior Motion-Sensor Lighting
You’re probably familiar with the outdoor version: those giant bulbs above the garage door that illuminate when someone (or something) passes.
But do you know about the numerous aesthetically pleasing interior options for smart lighting?
Custom Light Fixtures with Motion-Sensing Capabilities
They can replace sconces in hallways and rooms. We recommend setting the bulbs to turn on when you enter the room. Furnish them with a dimmer switch and preferred-wattage light bulbs, and you’ll be able to set the perfect ambiance.
Clean-Line Motion Sensor Outlets and Light Switches
These are an easy upgrade that can blend with many aesthetics. The snap-ons fit over existing light switches and outlets for a clean line. When you pass, they signal for plug-in lamps or overhead bulbs to switch.
Smart Kitchen Appliances
If you love to cook, you might already know about smart kitchen appliances. What you may not have considered is how these extra-smart features can benefit your next life stage.
These have been available for the last few years, although you may have been put off by poor reviews. Now, it seems previous bugs have all but disappeared. You can tell your stainless steel smart fridge to take inventory. It can automatically create a grocery list for you. And it can even order your groceries to be delivered to your home. Imagine the relief this could provide to some seniors: saving a drive and a trek through the grocery store — especially if COVID concerns linger.
They can be pricey, but some safety features do make them worth a look. Most will automatically shut off if they detect non-use after a certain amount of time. Others enable smartphone connections that alert you if you leave home without turning off the oven or stove.
Voice-Controlled Kitchens (like the Amazon Alexa)
As you have likely seen, this smart technology uses voice-control. When you speak commands, your kitchen appliances respond accordingly. For many kitchen tasks, this can greatly lessen mobility challenges.
If you wish to renovate more in-depth, we can choose products that endow your kitchen with intuitive capabilities. These are attuned to “learn” your preferences before it becomes more difficult to manage kitchen tasks. Your smart kitchen can even detect if your normal activities aren’t happening — a potentially life-saving capability.
As one of the top “fall zones” in an unadapted home, bathrooms often become a central place to employ aging in place home design strategies. Because they present multiple problems as homeowners age — from height challenges to floor slippage — we try to come at bathroom remodeling from multiple standpoints.
Trading your tub for a walk-in shower is attractive and trendy. Install the tile so that it seamlessly flows from the bathroom floor into the shower space. When designed well, a sleek, zero-entry shower looks modern and stunning. It can really open up the space in your bathroom. And it eliminates a major threshold trip hazard.
This feature might also give you pause. But handrails don’t have to mar your bathroom style. We can help you find options that blend form, function, and aesthetics.
Even slightly lowering drawer and cabinet pulls can help you keep your balance while maneuvering in the bathroom.
Motion Sensors for Sinks, Toilets, and Lighting
Bring the same smart sensibilities into your bathroom. Automatic sensors for switches, knobs, and levers can counterbalance aging issues that affect your fine motor skills, like arthritis.
Open Up Your Living Room
The formal living room has all but disappeared. Knocking down walls to create endless sightlines has been on-trend for a while. Falling in line with this modern style provides a shortcut to aging in place home design.
Because the most influential change you can make is to widen walkways, the front door, hallways that branch off the living room, and any other points of entry.
Keep in mind that the benefits extend over time. An open floor plan makes it easier to accommodate family gatherings in the present. Later, it will make mobility much breezier if you invite a relative to cohabitate.
Plus, an extra pair of hands could be necessary during periods of convalescence or recovery. An open floor plan allows for both you and an assistant to move around the space.
This brings us to the next logical step: once you open up your living space, it would be a shame to clutter up such a modern home!
Streamline Your Interior Design
One major renovation we often recommend: expand your storage. Built-in bookshelves or glass-door cabinetry can help minimize clutter. We think this is key to accident avoidance. Keep the knick knacks — lose the risk!
For aging in place interior design inspiration, you can happily follow the resurging trend of Mid-Century Modern. This pared down style naturally supports an uncluttered space.
- Narrow, clean-lined sofas and chairs keep walkways wide.
- Rounded coffee and end table corners soften any bumps along the way.
- Layered textures help you feel cozy and comfortable year-round.
- Extra lamps and multi-bulb lights brighten the space for less-than-perfect vision.
- Strategically placed decorative mirrors increase visibility.
Get Help with Aging in Place Home Design
These are just some examples of how contemporary home adaptation can keep you on-trend and safe as you age in place. If you have specific needs or aesthetic must-haves, always talk to a experts who specializes in aging in place home design.