Check out my building blog to learn more about construction for your home or office in Austin! David L. Traut, President, CAPS Certified (512)444-0097

Home Modifications for Aging in Place/How Do I Age in Place?

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Thu, Jun 23, 2022 @ 14:06 PM

While it may not be possible for every older adult to live independently in their existing home forever, there are many modifications that can be made to the home to increase safety and make it more functional for the homeowners to remain in their own homes longer. By gradually implementing home alterations that support aging in place, today’s seniors maintain their independence, and in the long run, may save a substantial amount of money on senior living.

universal design kitchen for aging in place in Austin

More seniors are opting to age in place than ever before. This trend is driven in part by the rising costs of long-term care, coupled with the rapidly growing senior population as the Baby Boomer generation ages. This particular generation is enjoying a more active, vibrant lifestyle than all other previous generations.  Increasing technology and the wider availability of personal services, such as home meal delivery, are making it easier for seniors to remain in their own homes independently. However, aging in place is not for everyone, especially when major disabilities are involved.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

As with any successful endeavor, You must establish a reasonable plan of action to age in place. This action will involve the input of all parties associated with the homeowner(s). The participants include caregivers, occupational therapists, physical therapists, extended family members, and any other professional medical personnel. Steps taken to move in a positive direction include: 

  1. Take note of your personal abilities and any difficulties you have moving around your home within specific areas.

  2. Seek out a professional assessment of your home provided by a CAPS (Certified Aging in Place Specialist)member. This way you know that you are in good hands because sometimes the renovations required to accommodate a senior or any disabled person, regardless of age, are no easy task and instead take a lot of time, knowledge, and effort.
  3. If you live in a multi-story home, combine the main rooms for activity on the first floor. If this isn't possible, entertain the idea of installing a stair-lift, or better yet, an elevator in your home.

  4. Widen all doorways to 36-inches, and include pocket doors in certain areas to limit architectural barriers caused by swinging doors. Make sure there is at least one no-step entry into the house. Install lever-style door hardware when possible throughout the home.
  5. Install a slip-resistant floor throughout your home using wood flooring, cork, rubber, or porcelain tile. Be mindful of the chosen flooring's hardness in case of falls. Carpet offers too much resistance when using any mobility device causing tripping, falls, and instability. Ensure all transitions when changing floor materials are as smooth as possible and below 1/2 inches in height.

  6. Take note of any lighting issues producing dark areas in any room. Add layered lighting throughout the home to increase safety.

  7. Reduce the clutter in all rooms and provide a clear five-foot turning radius in every room.

  8. Reduce the number of doors on cabinets opting for full-extension pull-out shelves or drawers.

  9. As for the bathroom, provide a walk-in or roll-in shower with grab bars on all sides versus a garden tub. A hand-held and fixed shower head provides options for the user or caretaker. A roll under vanity is great for wheelchair use or applying makeup from a seated position. A comfort height toilet associated with grab bars reduces the discomfort of deep knee bends. 

  10. For the kitchen, make it as adaptable as possible to suit the needs of child helpers or granny in her wheelchair. Offer varying cabinet heights and work surfaces. Plan for the shortest work triangle formed by your main sink, refrigerator, and stove locations. Raise your dishwasher 9-12 inches above the floor making it easier to load and unload for everyone.

  11.  Last, but not least, comes the laundry. Install side-swinging doors of opposite swings for the washer and dryer enabling you to simultaneously access both machines from the middle. Don't forget to set the machines on a pedestal to raise them above the floor, in case you ever find yourself using a wheelchair.

Get Educated 


T-Square Company, located in Austin, Texas offers complete design/build Aging in Place Services to its clientele. David L Traut, the President, and owner of T-Square Company is national CAPS certified and has been doing successful accessibility remodels, additions, and construction for over 30 years. Some of our clients include HUD, the VA, and many private homeowners. Contact us today to see how T-Square Company can help you solve issues to streamline your home accessibility to Safely and Comfortably Age in Place in your existing home. 



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Future Home Building Using Universal Design

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Dec 30, 2020 @ 15:12 PM

The present out of control housing market situation prompted a search for answers solving the question of how to create houses capable of meeting the needs of tomorrow while accommodating future life changes. There is no one size fits all home design because everyone’s life experience is unique to them creating a diverse society with diverse physical needs. Using Universal Design, the wide ranging abilities of the homeowner is a major consideration for all successful inclusive and adaptable designs in homes. The absence of the Universal Design principles entering into all existing home architectural endeavors is perpetuating the lack of accessible housing urgently needed for the lifespan of every homeowner. To increase the acceptance of this design concept by everyone, especially the consumer, Universal Design must become a topic of conversation through knowledge and basic understanding. This depends on the members of the broadest populations’ acknowledgement of the need for the use of this practical idea.

Universal Design Kitchen in Austin

Universal Design plays a significant role in the future accessibility of all home designs. Homeowners must base design decisions on the seven (or eight) principles of Universal Design. Deciding which universal features to include in future forever homes is the most alluring question. Each principle is very useful in itself. The more principles involved in the design process, the greater the adaptable outcome of the home. After all, the smart forward thinking homes of the future depict long term sustainable assets for life allowing Aging in Place to seamlessly follow as people age and evolve. It is true Universal Design emerged out of the accessible and adaptive architectural movement; however, it constantly attempts to combine aesthetics with basic core values for every user. While moving us toward an accessible future, appearing invisible, Universal Design recognizes peoples’ bodies, needs, and lifestyles constantly change along a continuum due to the aging process. Universal Design acknowledges too that everyone ages differently as individuals. One person’s disability type is not experienced like another’s. It is better to live in a more open and comfortable Universal Design home with the flexibility of evolving with the homeowner rather than one which at some uncertain time becomes an impasse during the homeowner’s lifetime.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

Embracing Universal Design with its many values and advantages for all people during timely remodeling projects or while building a new home is needed if society is ever going to escape the inaccessible cookie cutter homes of today. Additionally, this design technique offers a win-win solution helping solve problems encountered by multi-generational households. The multi-generational homes of today create the greatest personal accessibility challenges for all the generations involved. The application of Universal Design principles is desperately needed to sustain the choice of living environments for these diversified families. Universal Design homes have the unique ability of simultaneously accommodating strollers, walkers, or wheelchairs within the home without regard to a person’s size, age, or abilities. Furthermore, these homes contain lasting value if the owner ever decides to sell appealing to all society groups. To the uninformed, the folklore associated with Universal Design has stigmatized the process in home building today. This has much to do with why such a unique building concept is not greeted with open arms by the consumer. Beliefs like, it costs more, it takes up too much space, it will make my home have less resale value, it will look institutional, or only a few people could benefit from it represent a select few.

While Universal Design sounds appealing in conversations, it is rare to actually witness it in the built environment. The Universal Design movement recognizes its slow acceptance hinges on historic ties related to being a disability solution. This way of thinking causes implications for consumers and the world of home design presenting a huge misconception. Universal Design never distanced itself from the need for increased accessibility during the disability movement of the 80’s and therefore is mired in ADA jargon producing an indelible unfocused brand. As an inclusive design, Universal Design pertains to overcoming the barriers and stereotypes associated with its terminology in order to stand out as the next and final trend in future housing. Universal Design has no limits for the varying groups of people it helps. Every family member is included when using this design methodology whether they are abled or disabled, short or tall, young or old. With education, people understand Universal Design is the most revolutionary element in housing design today. Once realized how the principles of Universal Design affect everyone in the quest for maximum inclusion, consumers might start paying better attention to this logical building concept. Future home dwellers are fortunate in having this transitional and adaptable design concept in their vocabulary. Possibly they distinguish the designs flexibility as the gateway for tomorrow homes built and designed for everyone at every age. Only then, when people grasp the importance of Universal Design, does it become an everyday building term and a much needed household solution. No longer are personal desires for Aging in Place creating total disruption during life’s waning years. It is successfully accomplished seamlessly following the accessibility offered by Universal Design.

Discover the Principles Of Universal Design

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