Aging Well

Top 10 Features of Aging-in-Place Homes

3 out of 4 adults over the age of 50 want to stay in their homes as they age. Here are the top ten features of a home that can help them do so.

Posted Updated
Deb McCutcheon and son Adam
Liisa Ogburn

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).
  • Garage
  • Attached garage; zero-clearance is ideal, can install electric lift if needed.
  • Wider Doorways
  • 36” doorways needed for wheelchairs; 32” for walkers. Barn-style or sliding doors eliminate the door swing hinderence. Lever-style door handles.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Flooring
  • Non-slip flooring: LVP (Luxury Vinyl Plank) or textured tile; eliminate carpet and throw rugs.
  • 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.
  • Low Maintenance
  • Vinyl siding and soffits; newer construction; HOA for lawn, gutters & exterior care; consider purchasing a Home Warranty policy.
  • Community Resources
  • Proximity to family & close friends; near bus line or other public transportation; sidewalks; near groceries/ food, shopping, library, Senior Centers.
  • 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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