Universal Design – also known as “barrier-free design” – aims to make homes safe and accessible for everyone, regardless of age or physical ability. Homes built or renovated with universal design in mind are often more suitable for aging in place, rather than having to move when the realities of aging become too much to handle in a space designed without those challenges in mind.
As people get older, their home needs change. Suddenly, steep stairs and narrow hallways make it difficult to age comfortably and safely. Aching joints and bones make turning doorknobs a painful task. The risk of falls resulting in serious injury grows every day. The combination of a growing desire to remain at home for as long as possible and the safety concerns that come with aging have created a need and strong demand for more accessible homes. Thankfully, it’s becoming easier to have a home that is both safe and stylish.
Here are a few ways to keep universal design in mind when renovating or building a home:
FEWER STAIRS. Stairs can become a huge challenge later in life, so limit the number of stairs or height changes both inside and outside of the home. If you have a front porch with steps, make sure that you install handrails. You might also want to consider installing a ramp at another access point to the home.
PAY ATTENTION TO HARDWARE. Grasping doorknobs or cabinet knobs can be extremely hard on arthritic hands. Instead of knobs, opt for door levers or cabinet pulls that are a little easier on the joints.
LEAVE ENOUGH SPACE. Avoid narrow hallways and entryways. Areas less than 32 inches wide are hard for wheelchairs and scooters to get through, so make sure that all hallways and doorframes exceed that width. Don’t forget to leave enough space to easily navigate and turn in a wheelchair between counters and cabinets in the bathrooms and kitchen.
MAKE IT ADJUSTABLE. In addition to installing handles and rails in the shower for safety, make your bathroom more comfortable by choosing an adjustable showerhead that can easily be lowered to any height or focused in any direction.
CONSIDER HEIGHT. High countertops in kitchens and bathrooms can make things unreachable for those in wheelchairs. Lowering countertops prevents that from becoming a problem.
Even if you don’t currently have any age-related or special physical needs, it’s a good idea to keep universal design in mind if you plan on staying in your home for a long time or if you live in an area with a lot of older residents. If you decide to sell your home, you might see higher offers from those looking for a more accessible home and someone else will be able to benefit from your foresight.
For information about buying and selling a home in Moore County, call a member of The Home Team NC at 910-684-3339 or email us at [email protected]. For daily tips and helpful real estate information, Like and Follow us on Facebook: The Home Team NC.