By David H. Wulff, AIA

Many homeowners here bought what they thought would be a vacation home. Then as time progressed found out that they wanted to retire here. Or maybe you bought when you retired. Let’s face it, we’re getting older.   Most homes were not built for retirement. So, the option is to “Age in Place” or move to another home.

Studies have found that Americans prefer to stay in their current homes as they age, rather than downsize or relocate. And that is a major factor in the continued growth of “aging -in-place” and that is driving the national increase in remodeling activity.

Aging-in-place remodeling involves making home modifications – big or small- to help the home owner live safely in their home as they age. Especially as they experience changes in their health or mobility.

Sure, we have the desire for better and newer amenities to replace old components, but we need to look at what will also assist us as we grow older. Some of the items that will help are small and some are much larger and costly. The easiest to accomplish, and really should be done for every home no matter what the age of the homeowner are:

  • Grab bars in showers and near toilets
  • Taller / elevated toilets
  • Curb-less entry showers.
  • Additional lighting to interior and exterior areas.

Other considerations, if the budget allows:

  • Widened hallways and doors
  • Elevator access to all levels
  • Ramp access to entry door

When we designed our home, we included a “shaft” for a future elevator.   When we were under construction, I had a hernia operation and it was then that we decided to just put the elevator in. Best decision we ever made. I try to encourage all my clients to consider an elevator when building. Elevators can also be incorporated in an existing home as we have done a number of times.

Remember, we are all just “temporarily able”.