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What Are The Differences Between Universal Design And Aging In Place?

What Is Meant By These Two Design Techniques?

People tend to use these two terms interchangeably.  This isn't necessarily true even though they both play a part in aging in place.  As a CAPS certified aging in place specialist,  we can show you how each term applies to your home at the proper time.  The existing built environment can create opportunities or constraints for seniors to participate in social and productive activities.  Universally designed spaces are more easily accessed and used by a spectrum of people without specialized adaptations later.   You can fill out the form below to improve and begin to understand the next or future accessible chapter in your life. 

  • Be better prepared for life's surprises either now or later
  • Make your home more visitable by others
  • Give accessibility to everyone in your family
  • Plan for the future without making things obvious
  • Find out how universal design is adaptable design

What Is Universal Design?

Why Should You Plan Ahead?

If you are going to update or remodel your home anyway, why not plan for the future?  Plan ahead for disabilities that can come at any time of your life and avoid massive remodels and home modifications for increased accessibility.  Make living your life seamless when it comes to accessibility within your home.  A little fore thought providing some extra room to maneuver within your home is good for everyone under any circumstances without regard to age or ability. Incorporate universal design into your remodeling projects over time like:

  • Construct larger doorways when remodeling
  • Install slip resistant flooring when upgrading
  • Design a bathroom which is barrier free for wheelchair or walker access
  • Create an atmosphere which is safe for all people with no need for functional changes
  • Keep your future plans concealed like adding grab bars later on hidden blocking
  • Universal Design is the design of products and environments which are usable by all people without adaptations
  • Avoid costly "have to" home modifications when under duress 

What Is Aging In Place?

What Are Aging In Place Home Modifications?

Aging in place is not age related or just for older inhabitants.  Debilitating diseases or life changing events;  if for only a short recuperation time,  can force you into making your home more accessible.  Perhaps in a multi-generational situation,  an elder has mobility issues requiring instant modifications before they can move in or maybe they just want the opportunity to visit you safely.  It is a known fact that the built environment negatively impacts older adults by creating barriers to maintain a continued engagement with life.  Aging in places advantages are:

  •  Remaining in your own home with familiar surroundings
  • Staying in your home is much cheaper than a nursing home or assisted living
  • Aging in place remodeling usually targets a specific need and is more noticeable
  • Aging in place remodeling keeps people healthy, independent, and safe within their own home
  • Accessible designs are usually permanent and noticeable

Why Not Let Universal Design Help Lead You Gently Into Aging In Place?

What Pathways Become Obvious With Forethought?

Here are some examples of common universal design elements that are also often incorporated into Aging in Place remodels…

  • No steps to get into the home
  • Living, sleeping,  and bathroom areas all on one level
  • Wide doorways and hallways… not only let wheelchairs pass through, also make it easy to move things around, including furniture
  • Extra floor space for maneuvering through larger open rooms
  • Floors around tubs and showers with non-slip surfaces and at any other wet areas within the home 
  • Handrails at all steps or elevation changes
  • Grab bars can be applied at the proper time on concealed wood blocking
  • Good and adequate non-glaring task lighting with as much natural light as possible
  • Lever door handles and rocker light switches
  • Drawer dishwasher, microwave, refrigerator, and dinnerware storage systems
  • Use contrasting colors in all rooms in case of visual changes


Generally Speaking About This New And Useful Building Concept

Tell The Reader More

Aging in place design is mostly used for homeowners who require home modifications to allow them to remain in the home safely and comfortably as they age and their physical abilities change over time. Universal design is a much broader term covering the design of products and environments that are usable by all members of the household, from the youngest to the oldest, to the largest extent possible, without the need for further alterations, adaptations, or specialized design.  Universal Design provides a pathway to seamlessly age in place.  It is truly thinking ahead when it comes to accommodating the living environment.

Whether you need us now or later we're here to help

     Universal Design/Build projects and Aging in place home modifications are available through T-Square Company in the Austin area. We have an A plus rating with the local BBB and have over 30 years of remodeling experience. We are a certified aging in place specialist offering complete aging in place services.  Each design/build situation will be customized to fit your personal needs to increase your accessibility. Call 512-444-0097 today to begin the accessible second chapter of your life while remaining safe and secure in your existing home. CAPS #1636580  

David Traut, CAPS

David L. Traut, CAPS T-Square Company