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Aging in Place: An Introduction to Universal Design


Universal design is a philosophy that, when practiced effectively, increases the usability of the home for people of all ages, sizes and abilities. Focusing on comfort, ease of access and maneuverability, a home is designed to increase the likelihood of people being able to live in their homes independently for as long as possible.

According to an AARP report mentioned in an article from Home Savvi, 89 percent of people aged 50 and over wish to remain in their homes indefinitely. What’s more, 75 percent of remodelers say they’ve seen an increase in demand for this type of design.

Easy first steps in universal design include installing lights strategically to create well-lit hallways, setting up cabinetry with roll-out cabinets, and replacing knobs with lever handles. Other tips include installing non-slip interior and exterior flooring and mounting adequate handrails for stairways and ramps.

Toolbase also offers a checklist of features small and large to consider for new construction and renovation projects that have universal design in mind. Among them: installing a main bath on the main floor and building lowered windows or taller windows with lower sill heights.

Marvin’s Ultimate Casement windows also are an excellent choice for any homeowner looking to incorporate universal design. These windows swivel 140 degrees, allowing you to clean the outside of the window from inside your home. No more climbing ladders, an activity that sent more than 220,000 Americans to the emergency room last year. For more information, check out the Web site for the Center of Universal Design.