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“Aging in Place” is Easier When Using Universal Design Concepts

Aging in place with universal design

As Americans live longer, we discover that our homes may not easily accommodate long-term safe and comfortable senior living, or “aging in place”. That’s the bad news. The good news is that you can find or design a new home for at-home retirement living that makes aging in place easier. It starts with the principles of “universal home design”.

Universal home design is based on the simple premise that the home (including its fixtures, furnishings and environments) should accommodate all people regardless of age, physical condition or special needs. Obviously, this makes aging in place easier.

What are some of the key principles of universal home design?


This principle speaks to the “universal” part of universal home design. In other words, it seeks to make sure all residents or visitors can use and enjoy the home safely and comfortably.


A home designed or remodeled according to universal design principles should provide enough space in every living environment to approach, reach and use furnishings, fixtures, appliances and controls regardless of the user’s physical characteristics or capabilities.

Physical Ease of Use

Universal design also mandates that living in and controlling aspects of the home be physically easy and convenient for every inhabitant.

Visual and Physical Accessibility

Similar in nature to physical ease of use is the universal design principle of visual and physical accessibility. Controls, labels and other information should be within reach and clearly visible and readable (illuminated if necessary). This also relates to another universal home design principle – tolerance for error – which uses accessibility design to minimize the likelihood of accidents or user fatigue.


This principle emphasizes adaptability of a home’s features to suit the preferences or conditions of the residents. For example, fixtures might be adaptable for left-hand or right-hand use; or counter heights might be adaptable to accommodate very tall or very short users.


As high-tech controls become the norm, simplicity in universal design calls for intuitive usability of systems, including electrical and lighting controls.

In many ways, universal home design principles are common sense. But with so many considerations, it can be easy to overlook essentials for safer and more comfortable aging in place. To learn more about this subject and other alternatives for active, home-based retirement living, follow Chris Jones Realty on Facebook, or contact me at 317.442.4797. As a Seniors Real Estate Specialist trained in universal home design principles, I can help you make important senior living choices.


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