Home Accessibility Modifications That Help You Age in Place

    This was to be a forever home, but now age is catching up. The things that weren’t even thought about when the home was purchased years ago – walking up and down the stairs, taking a few steps up onto the porch, walking through dimly lit spaces – are larger concerns today.

    There are many potential enhancements for the home to make it more accessible. Is remodeling with this in mind worth it? What modifications should be top of mind? Here are the most important things to think about as one considers aging in place. 

    Are Home Accessibility Modifications Worthwhile?

    Planning ahead for aging in place is ideal, but too many of us put off these decisions until we have to make them quickly. Getting out ahead of these issues helps avoid this kind of “now or never” decision-making. According to a recent study from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, fewer than 50% of homeowners 55 years or older who are planning a remodeling project are thinking about modifications for aging in place. 

    For fuller autonomy as we age, home modifications for aging in place are very much worthwhile. The alternative is less autonomy and uprooting from the familiar. The question is, what modifications need to be made? If one lives in a two-story home, consider either first-floor living, or creating greater accessibility to the second floor. Older homes mean narrow doorways and hallways, and smaller rooms, so modifications might be in order to accommodate walker or wheelchair use. 

    Interior Design for Aging in Place

    In years gone by, it may seem like the choice was either style or accessibility. Today, there are many ways to create or increase ease of use, while retaining or even enhancing personal design aesthetics.

    Bathroom Safety

    A big concern with aging is losing your balance in the bathroom, a space with lots of angles and hard surfaces. What are some ways to be proactive about bathroom safety?

    • Install grab bars near the toilet and in the shower or bathtub.
    • Consider a walk-in shower with a bench or a curbless shower for easy access.
    • Use non-slip mats or adhesive strips in the shower and bathroom floor.
    • Design shower with built in seat.
    • Anti-slip coating in tub/shower
    • Handheld showerhead

    Kitchen Accessibility

    Everyone needs to eat. Make meal preparation and navigation of the kitchen as simple and worry free as possible.

    • Lower countertops to accommodate wheelchair users.
    • Install pull-out shelves and drawers for easier access to items.
    • Opt for lever-style faucets that are easy to operate.
    • Adjust the height of the sink.
    • Install a shallow sink.
    • Replace knobs with D-shaped cabinet pulls for easier opening.
    • Install under-cabinet lighting to simplify meal preparation and other tasks.

    Laundry Room Design

    The laundry room might not be top of mind when considering aging in place, but it is a space that gets a lot of use, and needs to be as user-friendly as possible. 

    • If possible, move the laundry room near the primary bedroom.
    • Purchase a front load washer and dryer.
    • Washer & dryer raised 12-15 inches above floor
    • Easy to read controls
    • Lower cabinets
    • If the home has two or more levels, and laundry needs to remain on a lower level, install a laundry chute.


    The other night I bumped my head trying to get to the kitchen in the dark, a path I’ve taken a million times. Being able to navigate space as we age means taking lighting seriously. Some steps to take in a renovation include:

    • Improve overall lighting throughout the house to reduce the risk of falls. 
    • Use bright, energy-efficient LED bulbs.
    • Install motion-sensor lights in key areas like hallways, staircases, and bathrooms.


    How many times has that area rug become a tripping hazard? Aging in place means removing as many of these kinds of hazards as possible.

    • Choose slip-resistant flooring materials to prevent falls. Materials like non-slip tiles or low-pile carpeting are good options.
    • Minimize transitions between different types of flooring to prevent tripping.
    • Use flooring that has minimal glare in natural or artificial light.


    As we age, getting up and down a flight of stairs can be one of the most significant mobility challenges. 

    • Install handrails on both sides of the staircase.
    • Consider adding a stairlift or elevator if stairs become challenging.


    • Widen doorways to accommodate wheelchairs or walkers.
    • Consider lever-style door handles for ease of use.


    Exterior Design For Aging In Place

    This is about paying attention to elements that will allow for ease and safety in getting into and out of the home.


    If just getting into and out of the home seems daunting, there are changes that can be made to alleviate that level of anxiety. 

    • Ensure ramps or zero-step entrances to make it easy to enter and exit your home.
    • Install handrails on both sides of the entryway for stability.
    • Install keyless entry so there is no fumbling for keys in the car or on a dark porch
    • Gently grade pathways so getting from the lowest point to the entry is as smooth a journey as possible. 

    Remodeling a Forever Home

    Accessibility modifications might mean renovating existing space, or adding on to create a first-floor primary suite and other changes to make first-floor living possible. This all might seem far in the future, but the more forethought is put into the process the better. Homeowners that do so age in place on their own terms. 

    There are many enhancements for the home to make it more accessible. Remember, each person's needs are unique, so it's essential to assess individual requirements and consult with professionals to create a personalized plan for aging in place.

    To learn more about remodeling for multigenerational living and the design-build process, download our eBook titled "Homeowner's Remodeling Guide To Age In Place With Style, Comfort And Safetyto get an in-depth understanding. If you are considering a home renovation, please feel free to schedule a home renovation discovery session with Gilday today.


    Homeowner's Remodeling Guide To Age In Place With Style, Comfort And Safety

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