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Homeowner How to: Universal Design and Aging in Place

Whether you need to update your home to accommodate your own needs or you live with an older family member who you would like to create a stress free environment for, there are millions of ...

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Universal design refers to designing spaces that enable people of any age range, or folks with limited mobility, the comfortable use of and getting around in a space. Eliminating barriers and making it easier for those who have a disability, who are very young or are seniors helps make it easy for them to operate independently in your home.This is a critical design factor to consider for most families.

Whether you need to update your home to accommodate your own needs or you live with an older family member who you would like to create a stress free environment for, there are millions of folks on Long Island who are looking for innovative solutions in their home that will simply make daily life easier.

Here are few key things you can do to make daily living easier for anyone in your home:


  • Select lever style handles and door hardware. A lever style handle makes access easy for both children and those who have issues with grasping and turning knobs, whether that is from carpal tunnel, a disability, arthritis or general weakness.

Install support bars in the bath. There are SO many beautiful new products on the market that are secretly grab bars in disguise and can make the bath so much easier to get around in. They come in many forms, some look like a fancy soap dish and others are a sturdy yet lovely towel bar or paper holder. Safely keep your independence without the clinical style hospital look.

  • If you are renovating your space, make sure to keep your entry areas and walkways large; create areas of at least 5 feet clear to move around freely.
  • Barrier free showers and walk in bathtubs have come a long way! There are numerous styles out there that are both cool and built to fit into your existing tub or shower area for a simple and affordable installation. Walk in tubs come in numerous sizes from a simple standard size tub to a higher sit in version with options such as air jet, spa baths and heated backrests. Barrier free showers can be built so there is a drain where the shower ledge would be to eliminate all tripping hazards. Just walk or wheel right in and shower!
  • Shower seats are fantastic and useful for any age. These can be as simple as a decorative bath plank that perches across the tub; it can be used to hold a glass of wine or a book while a taking a relaxing bath and can double as a seat or a ledge to make showering easier. There are beautiful teak benches that mount right onto the wall and fold up to the wall for ease of use and cleaning. Or simple bench seats that sit right inside a shower which can be removed or folded up when they are not needed.

Making your home barrier free and incorporating universal design is something that every home should consider. If you need help with retrofitting your home, call a kitchen and bath specialist who can help you select exactly the right products for your situation, and an experienced home improvement contractor to help you install the products correctly. If you are considering building a new home or renovating, contact a local architect or interior designer for help with planning spaces that are easy to use and will help you and your family gracefully age in place.

Beautiful universal designs that are functional and efficient can help your family feel wonderfully independent and create a stress free environment. Why suffer when you can make your life easier? Whether you are 6 or 60, being able to fully access your home independently, as well as being able to perform daily tasks easily and safely is a great feeling and really is simple to achieve using tips like these.


Photo credit: Tub by Ella's Bubbles LLC