Aging in Place with the help of Certified Aging in Place Specialists and Universal Design

Aging in Place with help from Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS)

Most seniors desire to stay in their homes for the rest of their lives. In fact an AARP survey found this number to be greater than 80% of seniors. This “stay at home” approach is also known as Aging in Place. Several reasons are cited for this strong Aging in Place preference. These include:

  • Comfortable environment
  • Feelings of independence
  • Convenience to services
  • Familiarity
  • Safety and security
  • Proximity to family

The goal of aging in place is helping seniors continue to live in their home. For the elderly population, a concept called universal design can be the difference between being able to stay and age in their homes or moving out and living with family members or in a senior living community. Universal design for aging in place is great for seniors. For example, wider doorways are beneficial for people in wheelchairs as are lower light switches. 

The Remodeler's Council of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), in collaboration with the NAHB Research Center, the NAHB 50+ Housing Council, and AARP, developed the Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) program to help consumers with the dream of making their houses homes for a lifetime, even if their needs and abilities change.  Certified Aging In Place Specialists suggest the following areas to make your elderly loved ones home aging friendly:

  • No-step entry allows entering the home directly from the sidewalk by sloping or ramping the walkway to the door.
  • One-story living prepares for the future by locating a bedroom and bath on the main floor. This can save later renovation money if planned ahead. Deep stacked closets on the floors directly overhead can permit installation of a future home elevator, as an alternative in a two-story home.
  • Wide interior doorways (34–36 inches wide) ensure access to all rooms. To gain an extra two inches of clearance, swing-away hinges provide extra width for a minimal cost.
  • Wide hallways (48 inches or more wide) enable easier turns. Wheelchairs generally require a five-foot clearance to easily turn without backing up.
  • Extra floor space can be obtained by eliminating unnecessary clutter and unused furniture. In addition to adding turnaround space, adding decorative chair rails can add beautiful yet handy grips for maneuvering, especially if balance is a concern.
  • Pull and lever handles are easier to grasp than round knobs on cabinets and drawers, and can be more stylish. Levers allow opening with either hands or elbows. Pulls should be large and extend far enough to accommodate larger hands.
  • Lighting should be considered based on the function and tasks for specific rooms. Kitchens, reading areas, and bathrooms generally have higher lighting needs. Motion sensors can help prevent accidents in hallways and on staircases. Overhead, step, and tread lighting on staircases can also help light the way.
  • No-step showers require removing curbs in showers. A five-foot clearance is suggested. A drainage system requires a gently sloping floor from all sides. At a minimum, grab bars at the shower, tub, and toilet should be considered.
  • Bordering floors and counter-tops with contrasting colors can help individuals with sight impairments. Minimizing the uneven height difference between carpeted surfaces and wooden or tile floors can help eliminate falls.

If your elderly parents or a senior loved one wants to stay at home and age in place you may want to consider consulting a Certified Aging in Place Specialist.  Happy Living!



Published on April 26, 2012.