Aging in Place

Aging In Place is defined as “the ability to live in one’s own home- wherever that might be- for as long as confidently and comfortably possible.”

Did you know that since January 1st, 2005 the boomers started to turn 60, at the rate of almost 8,000 a day? And these celebrations will continue for the next 19 years? This demographic impact shift will increase the need for many home modifications as the baby boomers “Age In Place.” These remodel transformations will consist of more than just widening of doorways to allow for a walker or a wheelchair as the Principles of Universal Design become popular.

The factors of genetics, lifestyle, and environment combine to drive demand within the Aging In Place market for Universal Design. This is the design of products, services, and environments that are usable by as many people as possible regardless of age, ability, or situation and without the need for adaptation or specialized design.

Universal Design targets multi- generational use and has an emphasis on aesthetics. The idea is to enter a home or any Universal Design environment and not even notice that features exist for users with unequal abilities.

One of the simplest examples of Universal Design is a door lever in place of a knob. A lever handle set requires minimal physical effort to open for a senior, a child or even a companion canine assistant.

While earning the Certified Aging In Place Designation from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), I practiced an exercise to simulate debilitating arthritis in the hand. The task was to open a door that had a round door knob, using only one hand. I placed a tennis ball in the palm of my hand and wrapped all five fingers around the ball to create a firm hold. Then a long tube sock was pulled over my hand holding the tennis ball. Trying to turn the round door knob proved to be very difficult in this condition. This is an example of one of the most common Universal Design Principles.

Learn more about Universal Design.