Our craftsmanship adds value. Our people add warmth.

Aging in Place -Universal Design

Everyone is getting older each day.  One of the hottest topics for aging in place home improvements is creating a home that is safe and user-friendly as we age.  These universal design tips can also be helpful to those with disabilities.

wheel chair accessible vanity

Wheel Chair Accessible Vanity

Planning to stay in your home as you age has become more important as Baby Boomers move to this stage of life.  Most Baby Boomers plan to retire exactly where they are – that is, they will “age in place.” True, some Boomers have already moved in the past several years – and may not seek to move again – but the majority are staying in homes that they have lived in for a decade or longer. For most, the decision to stay put is a matter of choice. With this in mind, we are offering various aging in place home improvement projects to make your home safer and more user-friendly as we are moving into our golden years.  These universal design options for seniors can be easily incorporated by a licensed certified aging in place (CAPS) remodeler.

Grab Bar

Grab Bar

Homeowners believe that if they own a rancher they are set to age in their home without a hitch.   What many do not realize is that though having a single floor living space is important there are other things that should be considered.  One of those considerations is in regards to floor transitions.  The change from carpet to hardwood or tile can be a tripping hazard and not always easily recognized by the elderly due to the deterioration of their vision and depth perception.  These transitions should be visibly marked so that it is easy to see as we move from one surface to another. Lighting can also be a great way to help reveal the transition and is an inexpensive installation.  Increased lighting is also necessary for hallways and stair areas.  Task lighting should be incorporated, especially in the kitchen, to help accomplish daily duties when creating a design for seniors. In the kitchen the height of the stove, microwave and dishwasher are also important.  These alterations can be more costly but may be considered very important for aging gracefully in our homes.  The desire is great to stay self-sufficient for as long as possible.  These changes can help someone continue to care for their basic needs safely, longer.

Aging In Place Featured Project

The purpose of this project was to make a ranch style home functional in the future for the homeowners. There were safety concerns with the existing home and an extensive wish list to be incorporated. View this Aging in Place Project

universal design even floor transitions

EvenTransition Flooring


Slide Shower Bar/Grab Bar universal design

Slide Shower Bar/Grab Bar

Lastly, we will discuss the bathroom and the need for safety in this necessary space. Having a little help now and then to get up and down is imperative as we age.  Remember when you were 20 how easy it was to pop up off the floor, now in your 50’s you may be using something to help push yourself up or hold on to as you pull yourself to your feet.  With the move for many people to live in their home independently, grab bars will be needed.  A grab bar can be added to a bathtub, shower or commode area by incorporating special anchors and reduces the need for tearing out walls.  Otherwise, blocking behind drywall is needed for adding grab bars. (See photo left) Manufacturers are now making slide rod shower heads that double as grab bars in the shower/tub area and grab bars that look more like towel bars. These fixtures can look in place in any bathroom décor and are included in universal home design plans, as they will offer the additional support needed by many as they age.

aging in place curbless shower

Curbless Shower


Curbless showers are also the newest and most sought-after purchase for elderly home design, as well as, many master bathroom plans for any age.  Homeowners are removing the soaking tubs and increasing the size of these walk-in showers.  They can be beautiful and fit in any bathroom setting, yet they are very important to those that are aging gracefully in their homes.  This design allows individuals that cannot lift their legs to step over the edge of a tub to walk into a shower, also enabling those in wheelchairs to roll right in.  As you can see they are attractive and relevant for any bathroom.  Both of these showers are ADA certified, yet could be found in any home decor. Contact your local aging in place specialist to obtain a design that is right for your needs and home or contact us at Owings Brothers Contracting in Maryland.