To begin, the whole concept of aging in place where people get to consciously choose (although some do this by default by just continuing to live where they are without ever decisively selecting to remain in place) to stay in the home of their choice long-term. Many people have been doing this for years, but the majority of individuals this is a relatively new concept.
Some families have had historical or generational homes or farmsteads that have been passed down through the family over the years, and the decision on where to live and remain was never in doubt. The home that some people were born in was the home they died in, and their children carried on from there. As we became a more urban population, however, homes were not as well suited for people to grow old and remain in place. The rooms, doorways, hallways, and access points were not particularly conducive to people remaining at home in their advancing years. Moving to a nursing or retirement home became a common practice.
Aging in place means that nursing homes aren’t something that has to be part of someone’s long-term plan. Rather, staying at home can now be that option. Both as the number of people who are looking forward to remaining in their current homes and as aging in place professionals who get to help people do just that, we collectively can be thankful that this is now the preferred option for getting older.
Thus, aging in place and remaining at home, moving in with adult children, or even occupying an ADU (accessory or auxiliary dwelling unit that is attached to or separate for their children’s home but on the same property) are all viable options for people as they get older – whether they have limiting physical or sensory conditions beyond normal aging or not. This is worth celebrating.
In addition to where we personally get to live as we get older (at home essentially) and how we get to help other people do this, we now have so many more products that we can use that weren’t available at all or not in their current form just a few years ago. Start with lighting. We now have LED bulbs in so many shapes and sizes for overhead can use, in cabinets, along stairs, under the cabinets as task lighting, toe kick lighting, strip or rope lighting, soffit lighting, on demand (motion activated) lighting, and so much more. This means more illumination, lighting that is easier on the eyes, lower electric bills, and bulbs that don’t need to be changed with any type of frequency. For some older people, LED bulbs installed now could well last their lifetime.
For interior doorways that need to use a solid door, we can make them even wider than what a 36″ hinged door allows by using sliding barn doors to cover openings of six feet or more. We know that 36″ is what is needed to provide the recommended interior clearance of 32″ and this gives us even greater flexibility.
We have fold-down shower seats, handheld personal showers, integrated grab bars that are attached to towel bars or other functional elements in the bath, and the linear drain that facilitates a roll-in or curbless shower.
In terms of flooring, we have many choices available. Hardwood is still quite popular, but many other hard-surface options can take the place of carpeting. Linoleum has made a big resurgence also.
There are so many facets of creating accessible, safe, and comfortable living spaces for our clients, that we can be quite thankful that we have these tools available to us.