Alexander Enterprises Construction & Development, Inc.  has  been building homes and remodeling with the aging in place concept in mind before it was “a thing”.  If, when building a new home, we can anticipate what the needs might be years down the road, then we can help our clients stay in their homes longer and minimize the expense of retrofitting things.  The cost of long-term care is just one component to the popularity of the concept.  The bigger picture is that when people are in their own homes, they are happier.  When a person starts to lose control of their lives in areas such as driving, health issues and/or mobility,  it is important for the things that can stay the same, to stay the same.  If we can design homes where one can bathe safely, cook safely and to do the things they love safely in the comfort of their own homes, they will thrive.

BATHROOMS & Aging in Place

Bathrooms are  the scariest places in a house and they are a key component in determining whether a person can remain independent in their home. Grab bars are essential- by the toilet, in the shower and anywhere else where one might need help or stability when they navigate a wet surface or go from a sitting to standing position.  The old hospital looking grab bars are a thing of the past.  Almost every plumbing manufacture makes beautiful decorative bars in all kinds of finishes.

We built a guest house that was primarily for the owners parents to stay in when they visited. They really did a great job making the bathroom a safe place- a perfect example that the design can be both gorgeous and safe.

Tubs and Showers:    Tubs are great but when safety is a concern, it’s best to avoid them.  A nice walk in/roll in curb-less shower with non-slip flooring and grab bars is the safest way to bathe.  Make sure the opening is a min. 36″ wide.  My Mama moved into our guest house when Dad passed away and we were very concerned with the shower situation.   We remodeled it (shown below) and  Mom said that she would not be able to be independent without the changes we made.  She can even take her walker into the shower, if necessary, but the grab bars have made that unnecessary.  In addition, something we do regardless of the age of our clients, is to make the faucet controls accessible by reaching in by the entry point, not where one has to walk into the shower to turn on the controls.

BEFORE: There were a number of things that made this shower dangerous: the curb, no grab bars, no handheld faucet and the floor wasn’t  non-slip.
Added grab bars everywhere but we were still concerned with safety.  The bench was already there but a shower chair closer to the faucet is safer.
Grohe handheld on slider for easy reach.
We were able to keep the existing wall tile due to the careful demo by one of our awesome tile craftsman.
AFTER:  We took out the curb, put in non-slip tile, grab bars on every wall and a hand held faucet so that a person could sit in a shower chair or on the built in seat.  Also, by using a light tile in the shower,  one can see their feet and watch their steps.

Fixtures & Aging in Place:

Toilets should be comfort height with soft close lids.  And as a side note that I can’t resist; I am a clean freak and the best thing ever are the toilets with the all smooth sides…no yucky stuff in those nooks and crannies! Before those were being made in the states, we used Caroma because they were the only ones we could find.  Now there are many to choose from.   

Single lever faucet by Moen

Fixtures are very important.  Toilet paper holders should be the kind where the paper can slide off and on.  Faucets should minimize twisting motions, which are difficult when one gets older.  Lever faucets work well and using a single lever faucet makes things easier.


Toilet paper holders where the t.p. easily slides off and on are great.

To follow:  Part 2 will focus on cabinets, electrical and flooring.  Feel free to share your comments and ideas with me!

12 Replies to “AGING IN PLACE: STRATEGIES (Part 1)”

  1. Love these ideas! Will be sharing on my business page! Great tips. So many people are in or near the position, to be addressing these things in their homes.

  2. Great post! My mother is now 100 and many of your ideas are so helpful. As a real estate agent I also have clients who are building homes that will accommodate their aging parents. I will send this along to them.

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