Design for Everyone

aging in place

There are 3 responses to a piece of design – yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for.

~ Milton Glaser


Aging in Place

Design is the supportive scaffolding of aging-in-place. This begins with the notice that human flourishing requires good design to achieve it. The vehicle for realizing human potential at all ages and abilities is Universal Design.

Universal Design (UD) is for everyone, Not just for the “elderly” (ageist term describing someone with declining physical/mental capacities) or disabled. Universal design principles aim to create equally comfortable, safe, and accessible living and workspaces for all individuals, regardless of physical ability or height.

Here are some UD Basics

Easy for the Hands: Consider replacing traditional doorknobs with lever-style hardware for easier use, especially beneficial for individuals with conditions like arthritis. Similarly, lever-style faucets and illuminated rocker switches enhance accessibility.

All-Age Friendly Floors: Ensure floors are slip-resistant by using nonskid mats under area rugs or eliminating area rugs altogether. Reduce trip points like thresholds and opt for low-pile carpeting, particularly beneficial for those using walkers.

Safe Stairs: Install handrails on both sides of staircases and ensure adequate lighting throughout the stairway to prevent falls. Clearly defined steps help individuals identify the edge of each tread.

A Well-Lighted Living Space: Adequate lighting in every room, hallway, and doorway is essential to prevent accidents. Pay special attention to well-lit entryways, which are prone to accidents if poorly illuminated.

Places to Land Stuff: Provide nearby surfaces like tables or benches at entryways for individuals to place keys, packages, or mail upon entering or exiting the home. This reduces distractions and potential accidents.

Optimal Bath Design: Enhance bathroom safety with grab bars strategically placed not only in showers but also by toilets and other areas where assistance may be needed. Consider installing step-in showers, single-handled faucet controls, pressure-balanced controls, and hand-held showerheads for increased accessibility and safety.

Accessible Countertops: Design countertops at varying heights to accommodate individuals of different statures and mobility levels. Consider installing lower countertops or sections with knee space beneath for wheelchair users. Additionally, ensure that there is adequate clearance beneath sinks to accommodate wheelchairs or seated users.

Wider Doorways and Hallways: Ensure doorways and hallways are wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers comfortably. Widening doorways to at least 32 inches and hallways to at least 36 inches allows for easier navigation and maneuverability, benefiting individuals with mobility aids or those who require extra space to move around safely.

Happiness begins first in the mind, then in the physical—both happen by design…


Inclusive Design that Meets the Needs of an Aging Society

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