Creating a safe, livable environment to foster aging in place

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The U.S. population is aging and many seniors want to continue living independently in their own homes. Creating a safe, livable environment to foster aging in place through universal design without the home screaming “this was made for old people” can be an easy task for professional remodelers.

Good design is good design

The same design features that make a home comfortable for older people also work for younger families.

“Aging in place continues to grow in popularity among homeowners because applying universal design principles in the home transforms it into a multi-generational living space,” notes Mary Jo Peterson, CAPS, on behalf of Delta Faucet. “Homeowners want safe functionality, but don’t want to give up attractive design.

New technology helps

Many products incorporating new technology help improve safety and are easier to use than conventional products. For example, Kohler’s Rite Temp faucets control water temperature to prevent scalding. Ease of use is gained by selecting lever handle faucets and intuitive controls on remote controlled devices and interfaces within showers.

Bath options

“As we age, it becomes more difficult for us to get in and out of low seating and your experience with your toilet is no different,” says Diana Schrage, Kohler senior designer.

Including the seat, Kohler’s Comfort Height Toilets are about 17 inches high, the height of a standard chair, which is about 1.5 inches higher than a standard toilet. By being a bit higher, they are easier to sit down on and stand up from, but look little different from other toilets. Available in several styles and models, installation is the same as any standard toilet.

Kitchens matter

In the kitchen, organizing the space into work zones is becoming prevalent.

“This also allows those with physical limitations to move around more as they complete tasks instead of being subjected to one area only,” Neumann says. “Thoughtful product and design considerations such as taller toe kicks, cutting boards built into cabinetry drawers and touch faucets are easy ways to meet everyone’s needs, including those in seated positions.”

No single right way

Professional remodelers can express their creativity when doing universal design as they do on any remodeling job. The only difference is the need to be more mindful of safety and usability considerations.

“Universal design or design for aging in place is a philosophy, a way of thinking, with no one formula for getting it right,” Peterson points out. “Therefore, products must be beautiful and flexible in order to fit into the parameters of the consumer in terms of space, budget, wants and needs.”

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