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aging in place

As we all age as gracefully as we can and trend into retirement, it’s prudent to think about what we want this next chapter of our lives to look like. After all, if we want to maintain home ownership, independence, and a strong sense of dignity, autonomy, and freedom, it will take planning and preparation that start years in advance.

That focus on proactive planning for this stage in life is what aging in place is all about. It’s not simply a set of home features or designs; it’s a lifestyle that prioritizes the value of living in our own homes instead of a senior care facility. It’s about keeping our place in the community and providing an exceptional quality of life, even as circumstances change.

 

What is Aging in Place?

The Definition of Aging in Place

According to the federal government of Canada, the aging in place definition is “having the health and social supports and services you need to live safely and independently, in your home or your community, for as long as you wish and are able.”

In plain English, it refers to accommodations of various forms – renovations, fixtures, lighting, etc. – that help you live a fulfilling and safe life, while in your own home. In a broader sense, it also refers to the features of your community, like physical and social amenities or accessibility of goods and services, which make it possible to lead a truly fulfilling life.

Aging in Place Design

There is no single way to design a home or floorplan that will work for everyone, as every person’s situation is different. For example, most of the families we work with have minimal health issues and are just proactively setting up their home to ensure they live the most fulfilling life possible. Others may have to plan around some form of mobility challenges, which may require stair lifts or an in-home elevator, while others may be dealing with visual restraints and have a need for better lighting. And for some, a progressive illness may require design planning with our design team alongside your health care professionals, such that all home modifications allow maneuverability for this progressive condition. 

“Aging in place design”, sometimes called “aging in place remodeling”, is a catch-all term for these types of design elements. Such changes require compassionate attention from a contractor or homebuilder, and a deep understanding of present and future needs. 

Why? Because ideally, it is best to “future-proof” an aging in place design as much as possible, reducing the risk of further renovations or a lack of accessibility in the years ahead. This is only achievable with a genuine builder-homeowner-healthcare professional relationship, and the information that is transferred between all parties provides the best possible outcome for a lifetime of living in your own home.

Aging in Place Design

There is no single way to design a home or floorplan that will work for everyone, as every person’s situation is different. For example, one person may have limited mobility and avoid stairs, while another has poor eyesight and needs better lighting. A third may be in a wheelchair, requiring higher cabinetry for extra manoeuverability.

“Aging in place design”, sometimes called “aging in place remodeling”, is a catch-all term for these types of design elements. Such changes require compassionate attention from a contractor or homebuilder, and a deep understanding of present and future needs. 

Why? Because ideally, it is best to “future-proof” an aging in place design as much as possible, reducing the risk of further renovations or a lack of accessibility in the years ahead. This is only achievable with a genuine builder-homeowner relationship and the information that is transferred between the two sides in the process.

 

Benefits of Aging in Place

Most of us have experienced a visit to a hospital or a care home at some point. What we continually hear is that nobody wants their home to feel as ‘medicinal’ or ‘institutional’ as what these facilities present.

The main benefit of aging in place is that you stay in a familiar place – with the people, surroundings, yards, greenery, aromas, and community that you know and love. You know every corner of your home, every piece of furniture, and every idiosyncratic charm that makes your house a home. You know what’s outside your door, and the neighbours who live next to you, and where the nearest grocery store is.

In short, you retain an autonomous and independent life that you have enjoyed throughout your adult life. Aging in place home modifications may be the key to unlocking this, but the real benefit is somewhat intangible and irreplaceable. It’s the sense of comfort and wellbeing, not to mention the emotional and psychological benefits that contribute to longevity; aren’t these priceless outcomes of aging in place?

 

Aging in Place Technology

Aging in Place House Design

Contrary to what it may sound like, aging in place house plans need not be extraordinarily expensive nor take a long time to implement. It depends on your needs (and what your future needs will warrant), but sometimes the changes are quite simple. 

Ranging from full renovations to minor tweaks to existing systems, here are some of the most common accessibility considerations for aging in place.

Aging in Place Home Renovations for Seniors

There are cases that require large-scale renovations to floor plans, layouts, grades, or other aspects of a home or property. For example, modifying a home to be wheelchair- or walker-friendly might necessitate removing front steps, widening doorways, or replacing the flooring to be conducive to movement between rooms; it may require a more significant solution, like an elevator or stair lift system.

These changes are not just cosmetic, either. Getting used to a “new house” – even if it’s still your old one – can take time and feel overwhelming. Choosing a qualified design-build professional that has years of experience providing these kinds of modifications is so important. The outcome of your renovation has to work both now and in the future, yet maintain or even contribute to the value of your home.

Home Modifications for Seniors

However, not every home needs a complete makeover. Many homeowners do not experience a full loss of mobility, but rather more gradual difficulties with movement, sight, and hearing; of significant importance is mitigating fall hazards. According to Stats Canada, every 13 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall-related injury. In these instances, modifications can be on a smaller scale, but of immense importance. Changes such as the following can help:

  • Helpful, yet aesthetically integrated grab bars can be placed in tubs, showers, toilet areas
  • Properly designed lighting can be installed, providing task, ambience, and pathway lighting 
  • Walls can possibly be moved or rearranged to allow for better sightlines and ease of mobility between rooms
  • Digital assistants, activated by voice or app like Alexa™, can help with pathway lighting, daily reminders, home environment, or fall alert devices 

Bathroom Renovations for Se