Living Independent: How To Create a Home For All Generations

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bathroom in retirement homeFamilies know life is full of unforeseen obstacles. Modifying the home to incorporate cutting-edge, barrier-free living features will help enrich the lives of active families as they change over time.

Homes with universal design features aren’t just for those who want to grow old and stay put. They are for families at any life stage, who want the peace of mind that they won’t have to move as their circumstances change.

Families with young children, people with temporary or permanent disabilities, and older adults who want to remain independent without a move are all model candidates for universally designed homes.

These simple features, with upscale design and functional ease, will increase usability by people of all ages, sizes and abilities. Preparing for these modifications before a problem occurs will allow you to be certain that the place you call home will be yours for years to come.


Universally designed hallways should ideally be 36 inches wide, and doorways should be 32 inches wide. Simple solutions like night-lights and light-colored paint can make hallways and entryways easier to navigate by increasing visibility. Rugs in hallways can also be lined with double-sided tape to reduce the chance of a slip.


Kitchen sinks can be installed with anti-scald devices to reduce the risk of hot water burns. Cabinets can be equipped with pull-down shelving and slide out drawers, for easier access to the items inside. Consider elevated dishwashers and side-by-side refrigerators to save your back from bending and reaching.


Stairways should be widened, with handrails on both sides to allow for a two-person, side-by-side descent. This also leaves the option of installing an electric chair lift, if desired in later years. Many houses also have elevator shafts seamlessly designed into the center of the house, for the installation of an elevator in the future.


Installing grab bars and placing a sit-down chair in the shower reduces the chances of anyone in the family slipping. For those with limited mobility, replacing sink twist knobs with motion sensors can help. Adding grab bars and raising the height of a toilet with a toilet seat extender will give greater comfort and ease to those who have trouble sitting down and getting back up.


The entryway of a universally designed home is free of barriers and can be easily accessed by people of all abilities. Wide sidewalks with a gradual incline carefully lead visitors into the home, and the walkway is free from debris or obtrusive plants. Guests or family members with disabilities are welcomed with a ramp and, once inside, an open foyer provides lots of room for the movement of wheelchairs.

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