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Preparing your home: Universal Design Principles

It’s never too soon to start thinking about making incremental changes to your home that can best accommodate you as you grow older.  After all, according to the National Institute on Aging, roughly 40% of Americans over the age of 65 live with at least one disability – the most common of which is reduced mobility (i.e. difficulty walking or climbing stairs).

Some changes may be easy to make – such as changing door knobs to levers.  Others are more ambitious – such as installing wheelchair ramps or widening hallways. All changes, however, abide by what are widely referred to as Universal Design Principles.  These are broad design guidelines for creating products and environments that can be used by all people regardless of age and physical ability.

There are 7 basic principles of Universal Design.  They include Equitable Use, Flexibility in Use, Simple & Intuitive Use, Perceptible Information, Toleration for Error, Low Physical Effort, Size and Space for Approach & Use.  The more familiar you are with these principles, the better able you’ll be to identify and prioritize desired home modifications.

To learn more about Universal Design and how Universal Design is being practically applied to home remodels, check out some of these highly recommended books on Amazon.

Finally, if you’re ready to start talking with potential contractors, make sure you find people who are certified aging-in-place specialists (CAPS).  You can learn more about this certification at the National Association of Homebuilders.


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