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It requires a certain level of expertise to design an accessible, comfortable, and safe home for seniors to age in place and be able to live independently for as long as they can. Below is a design checklist to help guide you and your designer/carpenter in the right direction.

General Design
Overall rules to follow when designing your space for accessibility and safety. These rules apply to any room.

– Open floor plan
– New lighting systems
– Larger windows
– Choose colors that aid in depth perception
– Non-step entries
– Wide doorways (wheelchair accessible)
– Eliminate throw rugs
– Consider ramps where possible
– Lever door handles instead of twist knobs

Bathrooms
Bathrooms are where the most falls and injuries happen. Ceramic flooring and bath appliances are slippery and cause 235,000 nonfatal injuries in the US each year.

– Raise toilet seat height
– Install grab bars near toilets, baths, and showers
– Shower seats may be necessary
– Use anti-slip coatings in tubs and showers
– Use slip-resistant floor treatments
– Replace standard tubs and showers with a walk-in

Kitchens
Kitchens need to be easy to use. Keep in mind that you or your loved one may not be able to reach higher up cabinets and may have a hard time maneuvering around appliances that are not properly positioned.

– Adjust sink height
– Install a shallower sink
– Consider hands-free faucets
– Pull-out pantry drawers
– Cabinet lighting
– Round-edge counters
– Properly placed appliances

Bedrooms
Getting in and out of bed and getting dressed can be a challenge for those who have a disability or for those with hip or back problems. Consider these factors when you design your bedroom.

– Put the bedroom on the main level
– Replace the bed with a low-profile bed (20-23” from top of mattress to floor)
– Lower nightstands to match the low-profile bed
– Bed railings
– Put a phone beside the bed
– Keep plenty of clearance around the bed
– Install pull-down closet rods

Laundry Rooms
Laundry rooms can be cramped and difficult to use to begin with, so be sure not to forget about it when you’re designing a more accessible home!

– Keep the laundry room near the bedroom if possible.
– Install a front load washer and dryer
– Raise the washer and dryer 12-15 inches off the floor
– Lower cabinets
– Consider a laundry chute if it’s a multi-level house

For some miscellaneous tips, be sure to use longer-lasting LED lights throughout the home so that you don’t have to change them as often, create a clear pathway from the bedroom to the bathroom, and consider installing a chair lift on the stairs for much easier access to the second or basement level of the home.

Give us a call for all of your carpentry needs! We can help you design the perfect accessible home where you or your loved one can age in place.