Aging Well

Aging Well

Top 10 Features of Aging-in-Place Homes

Posted October 31, 2019 6:00 a.m. EDT
Updated November 29, 2019 8:58 a.m. EST

Deb works as a Senior Realtor with ReMax Advantage.

According to AARP, three out of four adults over the age of 50 want to stay in their homes and communities as they age. Unfortunately, a much smaller percentage actually plan for that. If you are considering remodeling your current home to make it more senior-friendly or are looking to downsize to a home that can help extend your time there, here are ten features that can you should be aware of.

Senior Realtor Deb McCutcheon recently shared these in a seminar for the Triangle Chapter of the National Aging in Place organization. As someone who worked with the elderly as an occupational therapist for years, she is well-equipped to know what is important.

  1. Entry Way
    Covered entrance; well lit; minimal to no steps up to the home; may require zero-clearance threshold if in wheelchair/ walker. (door thresholds no more than ¼” high).   No ramps at front of home (OK in back if not visible from street).
  2. Garage
    Attached garage; zero-clearance is ideal, can install electric lift if needed.
  3. Wider Doorways
    36” doorways needed for wheelchairs; 32” for walkers. Barn-style or sliding doors eliminate the door swing hinderence. Lever-style door handles.
  4. Main level living
    Ranch-style homes or at least Master-on-Main and one other bedroom downstairs. Some prefer stairs as form of exercise; install handrails on both sides of steps, add slip-resistant treads to all steps.
  5. Bathrooms
    Zero-clearance shower with grab-bars, bench seat, hand-held shower head.
    Raised, elongated toilets (17 ½” high vs. 15” makes a big difference). Reverse swing on door.
  6. Flooring
    Non-slip flooring: LVP (Luxury Vinyl Plank) or textured tile; eliminate carpet and throw rugs.
  7. Lighting
    Increase wattage of bulbs; install rocker switches at wheelchair height; motion-sensor lights outside for security; hallway & stair lighting; task lighting in kitchen/ work areas.
  8. Low Maintenance
    Vinyl siding and soffits; newer construction; HOA for lawn, gutters & exterior care; consider purchasing a Home Warranty policy.
  9. Community Resources
    Proximity to family & close friends; near bus line or other public transportation; sidewalks; near groceries/ food, shopping, library, Senior Centers.
  10. Technology:
  • Amazon Echo - ~ $100
  • Ring Video Doorbell- ~ $180, (over age 75, 46% of females and 23% of males live alone).                                 
  • Sensi-Smart Thermostat -~$130, voice-controlled, works w/ Echo
  • Wemo Light Switch - ~ $50, controlled by phone app
  • Smart Refrigerator - ~ $3500, order groceries, reads recipes
  • Med-Minder Pill Dispenser - ~ $65
  • Stove Guard CookStop- ~ $600, turns stove off if left on
  • Robotic Vacumn Cleaners -
  • Robotic Lawn Mowers - ~ $1000
  • Automatic Door Systems – “ Home Automation”
  • Approach Wall Cabinet Lift System – raises cabinets up and down
  • Strobe light on Smoke Detectors

Deb McCutcheon is a Realtor with the special designation, Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES). Deb is also an Occupational Therapist.  Her combined expertise can help clients find homes to age-in-place safely and comfortably.

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