Aging In Place Remodeling

“Aging In Place”

The comedian George Burns used to open his stand-up act with the line, “I’m very pleased to be here. Let’s face it, at my age I’m very pleased to be anywhere!” It’s a fact many of us try to avoid, but aging is unstoppable. We will hopefully all someday be as George Burns put it – just pleased to be here. This realization brings us to a valid question- wouldn’t you prefer to “be here” in your own home, surrounded by familiar things, and at peace with the knowledge your “golden years” will be spent in a safe and comfortable environment? Aging-In-Place is the ability to live in one’s own home for as long as possible through the incorporation of design principles, telecare and assistive technologies. We at Foster Remodeling Solutions have seen the need for residential design which allows for comfortable aging in one’s own home and have made this is a focus of our design-build firm.

The numbers speak for themselves – in 2008 persons age 65 or older numbered almost 39 million and represented approximately 12.8% of the U.S. population (that’s about one in every eight Americans). It is projected that by the year 2030 this population of 65 plus persons will grow to about 71.5 million or almost 20% of the population. In other words, one in five Americans will be facing the dilemma of how to live out their remaining years in comfort and safety without the trauma associated with being relocated to a family member’s home or an assisted-living facility. This trauma, also known as “relocation stress syndrome”, can lead to health problems and conflicts which could be avoided if the use of Aging-In-Place concepts are able to be incorporated into an aging person’s existing home. What determines the ability to create a functional and livable space for an aging person in their existing home can depend on numerous factors including: the condition of the existing home; the actual health of the individual; the proximity of health services in the local area; the availability of technology for home wiring and systems which will help facilitate an older person living alone in their own home for many years. A professional design-build firm that is trained and up-to-date on the latest products and ideas for Aging-In-Place, such as Foster Remodeling Solutions, is vital to creating a successful project.

Most of the general products and ideas for remodeling or building a home that fosters Aging-In-Place are self-explanatory. In addition, many of the principles used in Aging-In-Place design are also the same used for homes designed to the Americans with Disabilities Act (or A.D.A.) specifications. A.D.A. specifications require minimum hallway and doorway widths as well as required heights for items such as appliances, countertops and toilets. The basic idea is to create a space that allows for: ease of movement; ease of reaching and accessing items in the home; reducing maintenance and care of the home and the yard; creating well-lit spaces; and designing systems within the home for communication, safety and security that are easily operated by the elderly person. Some specific examples are:

Ease of Movement:

  • 5’ turning or clear radius in the living area, kitchen, bedrooms and baths
  • 36” minimum width hallways and doorways
  • Eliminating steps into the home and within the home and promoting the use of ramps, elevators or lifts
  • Incorporating non-slip flooring and grab bars
  • Home designs that feature one-level living or remodeling existing main level space into livable space for an older person

Ease of Reaching and Accessing Items in the Home:

  • Lowered windows and windows with easy-to-operate hardware
  • Faucets and door hardware with lever handles versus knobs
  • Lowered kitchen and vanity countertops with open space below
  • Shower with curbless entrance, fold down seat and handheld showerhead
  • Front loaded washer and dryer and kitchen appliances at usable heights

Reducing Maintenance and Care of the Home and Yard:

  • Low maintenance exterior such as vinyl siding or brick
  • Low maintenance trees and shrubs with elevated flowerbeds
  • Shower stall with built-in antibacterial protection
  • Appliances designed to report trouble back to the manufacturer electronically
  • Easy to clean surfaces

Creating Well-Lit Spaces:

  • Sensor light at exterior entry focused on door lock
  • Light in the shower
  • Lots of windows for natural light
  • Task lighting in appropriate places
  • Lighting in closets

Easily-Operated Communication, Safety and Security Systems:

  • Entry door sidelight or lowered peephole with doorbell in accessible location
  • Anti-scald and pressure-balanced faucets
  • Light switches, thermostats and other environmental controls placed in accessible locations and not more than 48 inches above the floor
  • Rocker or touch-activated switches
  • Home security system direct wired to police, fire and EMS

These are just some of the design ideas that are incorporated into an Aging-In-Place project. A qualified design-build remodeler like Foster Remodeling Solutions can provide the expertise, care and customer attention that a project such as this requires. Aging-In-Place is a concept that will continue to grow and expand as our population ages. It is very likely many of us will be faced with these same challenges in our own homes at some point. For more information visit the National Aging In Place Council’s website at www.ageinplace.org.

For over 30 years, Foster Remodeling Solutions, Inc. has been offering kitchen remodeling, bathroom remodelingin-law suites and home additions improvement services. Our service area extends to Fairfax, Mclean, Springfield, Woodbridge, Alexandria, Arlington, and Falls Church VA. Request for a FREE CONSULTATION at 703-550-1371 or visit us at 7211 Telegraph Square Dr, Lorton, VA 22079 today!

Written by Dave Guy-Design Consultant, Foster Remodeling Solutions