12 Ways to Age-Proof Your Home

by Sam Ferris
?Age-proof design is a hot topic right now. With America's largest population segment - Baby Boomers - starting to grow older, more and more homeowners are looking for ways to improve the comfort and safety of their homes. If you're thinking about improving the design of your home with accessibility in mind or are helping your parents redesign their own home and age in place, these 12 tips will come in handy.?
1. Get better lighting
A bathroom space with good lighting
Photo courtesy of Emser Tile.
Want an easy place to start? Swap your old light bulbs for fluorescent bulbs.

They?re more expensive, but they last a long time and work well. Good lighting is key to avoid straining your eyes and tripping over unseen objects.
You may also consider motion-sensor lights in places like your stairwell. They turn on as soon as they detect motion. No flipping a switch required. ?
2. Pack up your rugs and mats
They may serve both practical and decorative purposes, but mats and area rugs are huge tripping hazards.

?More than 2.5 million elderly individuals take a trip to the emergency room each year for fall-related injuries, according to the CDC. Protruding rugs can be one of the main culprits.
If you want to keep your area rugs and mats, make sure the corners are secured. You can do this by finding an adhesive that will keep corners grounded.?
Area rug on kitchen floor
Photo courtesy of Emser Tile.
3. Install textured porcelain floors
Porcelain floors in living room
Photo courtesy of Mohawk Flooring.
First, porcelain is durable and easy to clean (you can use almost any detergent to clean it, or even just water). Older homeowners will love porcelain?s minimal maintenance. It?s also long-lasting.

Second, textured floors provide better grip for your feet and, as a result, better slip resistance. You don?t want to go flying the second your floors get wet.
Vinyl is also a great option. It?s softer on your feet than tile is and has most of the perks that porcelain has, sans longevity.?
4. Store dishes in drawers, not cupboards
Kitchen cabinet drawer with dishes
Photo courtesy of Wellborn Cabinet.
Save room for your dishes in your cabinet drawers. They?re easier to grab when stored in pullouts.
When you keep your dishes in your cupboard, it?s harder to reach. You have to extend your upper body to grab them. If you can?t reach, you have to use a stepping stool, which can increase the chances of falling or straining a muscle from over reaching.?
5. Replace cabinet and furniture doors with drawers
Kitchen cabinet with drawers
Photo courtesy of Cambria USA.
Since we?re on the subject of drawers, replace any cabinet and furniture door fronts with drawers. This can include your kitchen cabinets, your chest of drawers, armoires, closet drawers and more.
Drawers display all stored items at a glance and eliminate a lot of bending and reaching.?
6. Use grab bars
Grab bars can prevent slips and falls, especially in bathrooms. They give you something to grip as you enter and exit showers and stairwells.

Place a grab bar on the outside of your shower and on all interior walls of your shower so that you can safely navigate the space.

Make sure there?s a sturdy hand rail available throughout your entire stairwell. It?s also important to include a grab bar near any steps your home may have.
They aren?t all about function. You can find stylish grab bars in beautiful finishes such as stainless steel, brass, chrome and more.?
7. Increase the height of your counters
Bathroom vanity with increased height
Photo courtesy of Wellborn Cabinet.
Standard kitchen counter height is 36 inches, including your countertop. This is an ideal height for most homeowners. Standard bathroom counter height is lower, however. It?s normally around 33 inches, including your countertop.

You won?t have to hunch over your vanity if you increase your bathroom counter height to 36 inches. This can alleviate stress on your back.

If you?re designing your home to comply with American Disabilities Act guidelines and ensure wheelchair accessibility, your counters must not exceed 34 inches in height. Click here to read more about ADA guidelines.

You don?t have to increase your counter height if a lower counter height is more convenient for your body type. ?
8. Round your corners
Quartz countertops with a round edge
Photo courtesy of Cambria USA.
Don?t buy furniture pieces with sharp, 90 degree edges. You can hit your hip on these types of corners and get injured as you?re navigating your home. ?
If you?re installing new countertops in your kitchen or bathroom, request rounded or bull-nosed edge profiles. Granite, quartz, and soapstone are hard surfaces and can certainly cause a bruise or two.
9. Create no-step entries and thresholds
Picture of living room with step entry to outdoors
Photo courtesy of Marazzi USA.
According to the National Aging in Place Council, no-step entries are vital for wheelchair accessibility. They also eliminate barriers for individuals with a disability or who are on crutches.

Additionally, no-step entries and thresholds reduce the chances of tripping over a step or elevated surface.

The Aging in Place Council suggests eliminating steps in several areas, including the entry from your walkway to your front door and thresholds between rooms inside your home.
You might also consider a flat shower entry to minimize tripping and slipping and to make the space wheelchair accessible.?
10. Install a shower bench and a handheld shower head
The less time you spend standing in your shower, the less chances you have of slipping and falling. A shower bench also takes pressure off of your feet, knees, and back.
Always install a handheld shower head next to your bench so that you can sit and wash yourself. Handhelds are adjustable and movable for added convenience.?
11. Place your microwave at counter height
Kitchen with microwave at counter height
Photo courtesy of Wellborn Cabinet.
You may value your counter space, but it?s the best spot to keep your microwave. You won?t have to bend down or reach above your head.

Keeping your microwave above your counter can be potentially dangerous. Hot liquids can splash in your face as you?re removing a soup or water from a higher elevation.
Below-the-counter microwaves save counter space but increase the amount of bending.?
12. Ensure clearance space
Living room and kitchen with proper clearance space
Photo courtesy of Emser Tile.
The National Aging in Place Council also recommends adequate clearance space in kitchens and hallways. It?s a key component in creating a comfortable and wheelchair accessible home.

The standard clearance space in kitchens is 36 inches between cabinets, walls, and appliances.

However, wheelchair accessibility requires more clearance space. Read more about ADA guidelines for clearance space here.?
For additional tips, check out these two articles I penned for Houzz:
Kitchen Confidential: 10 Ways to Promote Aging in Place
11 Ways to Age-Proof Your Bathroom

    Schedule a free consultation