Aging in place is a home design concept that’s gaining traction as older Canadians say no to the prospect of growing old in an institution.
The concept advocates ways to adapt or build living spaces so they offer safety, comfort and independence to people as they age.
Many Canadians prefer the notion of getting up in years while staying in their homes rather than being institutionalized or receiving assisted living care. The concept is gaining momentum among architects, builders and homebuyers, especially baby boomers.
So what exactly is this home design for mature Canadians?
Let’s look at the bathroom and the kitchen, the two areas of the home that require the highest level of intervention and it’s not because they are the most costly to renovate or build. It’s because these two rooms are where most accidents take place.
Since people lose balance as they age, non-slip floors should be installed in both the kitchen and bathroom.  Automatic shut-offs would allay fears about possible fires from pots and pans left unattended on the stove. Kitchen sinks should be designed so that people can pull up to them in wheelchairs.
Gauges that measure water temperature and shut-offs that turn off taps before water overflows would be huge assets in the bathroom. Easily accessible showers that feature grab bars and plastic chairs will replace bathtubs.
Because loss of hearing often worsens with age, traditional doorbells will be replaced with flickering lights.
Other innovative suggestions include Skype-like technology that allows loved ones and health-care providers to keep an eye on their elderly parents or patients. Children will be able to view their parents through inconspicuous cameras. Health-care providers will be able to monitor and gauge various medical diagnostics such as blood sugar levels or blood pressure readings thanks to mini medical clinics within the home that connect directly to off-site medical staff.  Toilets are already being developed that can measure levels in urine and feces.
Additional features of aging-in-place design also include:
  • Accented stripes on edge of countertops to provide visual orientation to the workspace
  • Washing machine and dryer raised 12 to 15 inches above floor
  • In multi-storey homes, laundry chute or laundry facilities in master bedroom
  • Multi-storey homes may provide either pre-framed shaft (i.e. stacked closets) for future elevator, or stairway width must be minimum of four feet to allow space for lift
  • Flashing porch light or 911 switch