NELA Living Blog by Emilie Broughton

5 Essential Design Features for Aging in Place

Whether you are looking to downsize for a more manageable environment, or looking for a property to establish a multigenerational household.  Here are five design features considered essential for an older resident.

  1. No steps, transitions or thresholds
  2. A comfortable reach zone
  3. Bigger bathrooms with curb-free showers
  4. Elderly-friendly lighting
  5. Contrasting countertops and floors


  1. No steps, transitions or thresholds

Stability and balance diminish with age, while the chances of needing a walker or wheelchair increase.  Entrances should be step-free and floors should have smooth transitions between rooms.

  1. A comfortable reach zone

Age can also increase problems with both reaching up and bending over.  Cabinets and shelves should be set within a 54” reach zone so that people with “frozen shoulders” and other mobility issues can comfortably reach them.  If possible electrical outlets should be 18-20 inches off the floor rather than the typical 12-15”.

  1. Bigger Bathrooms with curb-free showers

Bathrooms may eventually need to accommodate a walker, a wheelchair, a caregiver or a combination of the three.  While typical tiny houses often have tiny bathrooms, some ADU’s have full-size bathrooms.  Showers flush with the floor are an important feature.

  1. Elderly-friendly lighting

Eyesight can also diminish with age.  Natural light through windows and skylights is the best.  When possible, these should be north-facing because this is the most consistent and consistent light.  Each workplace needs task lighting to cut down on shadows.

  1. Contrasting countertops and floors.

Depth perception also lessens with age.  If the counter is the same color as the floor, it can be harder to see.  The contrast doesn’t have to be as extreme as black and white; a good example would be brown and tan.  But white and white or black and black will not work.

Abridged from “Designing for the Ages” Wall Street Journal, November 13, 2020

Category: Blog |

Choosing a House for Multiple Generations

Families who are worried about older family members in senior living facilities are looking for properties that are built to accommodate multiple generations.  They are looking for homes that have an extra bedroom and bath, a “granny flat” or an accessory dwelling unit (ADU).  Still others seek properties with enough room and appropriate zoning to construct an ADU on the property.

ADUs are independent units that have their own kitchens, bathrooms, living areas, and entrances. Although similar to a guesthouse an ADU should have its own kitchen, bathroom, dedicated entrance, and at least one parking space. In the future it might be repurposed as a rental or Air B&B. Another benefit to building an ADU or “backyard cottage” on your property is the potential resale value. Having a granny flat is a popular feature, especially in recent years. This allows you raise your asking price and be more competitive within the market.  ADUs can be a great return on investment as well.

It has been calculated that a planned space plus in-home care can be cheaper that assisted living in many cases.  Some considerations when modifying or creating any new living spaces for the elderly include: wider doorways, no-glare lighting and no thresholds.

Adapted from “These Homes Keep it All in the Family”  Wall Street Journal, November 13, 2020

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Practice Mindfulness Every Day

Yoga and meditation aren’t the only ways to practice mindfulness to lower your stress level.

1.  Have a morning ritual—grab a journal and write down what you’re thankful for.

2.  If you leave your home to work, de-stress your commute.  Substitute music or a podcast for the news.

3.  Plan your Tech time wisely.  Turn off notifications on your phone and only check during a few short periods during the day.

4.  Try savoring your meal.  Chew more slowly and you will feel satisfied with less.

5.  Take a hike—people who feel a connection to nature have a stronger sense of well-being.

Read more at http://www.rightasrain.UWmedicine.ort/mind/well-being/mindfulness-meditation-health/

Category: Blog |