Building a home, no matter your age, is an exciting time in life. You may be realizing life-long aspirations or bringing new ones to fruition. Either way, one of the most important things to consider is how the house will serve your needs as you age.

Many senior citizens hope to grow old at home. This is known as “aging in place.” A frequent image for seniors includes having good health, together with their spouse, while their children and grandchildren live just a few doors down and their old dog Rover snores softly at their feet.

This is idyllic, but sometimes reality is a little more complicated, especially if health diminishes and assistance is needed in the way of companion care or elderly Home Care such as skilled nursing care.

You might be wondering if there is a design practice that is livable now and for the aging? Yes! It’s commonly called Universal Design. According to Rachael Zimmerman of Facilitiesnet, it is

an inclusive philosophy that says all spaces should be inherently accessible for all users. . .The range of human capability throughout the life span is the driving force of universal design philosophy. . . design that addresses the needs of every stage of human life.

Universal design is especially helpful for public buildings that experience use by diverse populations but building a home with its design principals may prove positive for you, your family and your friends as life happens and abilities change.

A home’s most common areas of challenge to accessibility, according to the website Accessible Homes, include the entrance, kitchen and bathrooms. Consider, for example, three items at the entrance that you may or may not already have in place. 1) Door handles that are lever style and have easy lock mechanisms. 2) A non-raised threshold for ease of use by wheelchairs, strollers, luggage, etc. and 3) Adequate lighting both inside and outside the front door. To read more universal design principals to consider, click here.

Universal design is not just for the elderly and aging. As you build a home or update your current one, spend some time learning about its principles. Using your budget to incorporate as much of it as possible can pay back big dividends, making it your forever home and providing you and your family with the best place to grow old.