Universal Design and Aging in Place

Picture of bathroom remodel to depict aging in place for home renovation.

UNIVERSAL DESIGN FOR AGING IN PLACE GRACEFULLY 

If you are like me, you might be considering what it would take to update your master bathroom, such as, change the countertop, possibly the plumbing fixtures, you might even be considering what it would take to change the shower and the tub to simplify it. If so, this might also be a good time to consider a few important factors before moving forward with your home renovation project. A needs analysis may be an important first step to consider before embarking on implementing such changes in your next bathroom remodel. The needs analysis is a step that is designed to help you avoid having regrets years after the project is done. 

NEEDS ANALYSIS

The needs analysis was specifically created to address the needs of an individual prior to a master bathroom renovation. Here is a list of specific concerns that you should answer prior to doing the actual work. 

SHOWER: 

  1. Is the shower large enough to accommodate two people in case there’s a need for assistance? 
  2. Is there enough room for a bench that’s large enough for a grown person to sit while taking a shower?
  3. Zero Threshold entry to the shower. Whenever possible, this would be a great value whether it’s a consideration for your family’s needs or resale value. 
  4. Should you consider re-enforcing the walls for future grab bars?
  5. Is there a need to add a second water outlet for a hand shower? Does the handheld need to be on a slide bar for convenient use by a person with disabilities, a child or for individuals of varied heights? Can the handheld sprayer specifically be a multifunction water source for a person who is in a hurry and doesn’t wish to wash her hair but needs a refreshing quick shower? Or for a young person who wants to feel independent and grown up, the hand sprayer can be lowered to a position to accommodate a person of smaller stature. It’s also a great tool for bathing dogs and other pets. Lastly, the handheld sprayer can be used to quickly wash off the shower and enclosure when you are finished. It is quite an important feature to include in a bathroom remodel. 

TUB: 

  1. Is the tub simply a bathing solution for a need of your family, or is the tub also a design and luxury feature in the space?  Well, it should be both.  A bathtub is a critical resale factor and something that deserves great consideration for you, your family, and the future buyer. Tubs are one of the key areas of focus in most home renovations and master bathroom remodels.
  2. What kind of tub is ideal for your needs and the space?
  3. What kind of plumbing fixture would best serve the needs of the user and the space in question? 

VANITY CABINETS AND STORAGE SOLUTIONS:

  1. Do you have enough storage in the right locations for everything you need while getting ready? 
  2. Do you have a need for drawers and is the vanity cabinet big enough to incorporate more drawer storage? 
  3. Do you have everything you need in the right location? 
  4. Do you need a special place for your counter appliances that have to be plugged in? 

Yes, aesthetics plays a major role in designing the ideal vanity but it’s also a critical space for storage use when getting ready. There are many considerations to be made when designing a vanity cabinet for each person. Specific needs should always be considered.

ELECTRICAL AND LIGHTING:

  1. Do you have enough light in the critical locations, such as the shower or the vanity? 
  2. Can you see your face well enough when applying makeup or shaving? 
  3. Can you see where you are going when you get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom? 
  4. Do you have outlets in the right location for all your appliances? 

Lighting is one of the most critical factors for aging in place and a science that’s worth considering and investing in.  A good home renovation contractor will place particular focus on this area as it can quite literally save lives down the road. 

OTHER CRITICAL FACTORS: 

  1. Slip-resistant floors
  2. Wider entrances to the spaces

Universal design takes into consideration design elements of a space to meet the needs of people of all ages who might be using the space.  The bathroom is that one key space in a home that must meet the specific needs of each person who might use the space, from a young child to an elderly or disabled person.  

Do you think these considerations would be a value to you, your family and the future buyer of your home? If so, then you are taking into consideration all the factors to ensure your master bathroom will be designed and renovated to a healthier and much more valuable space.  Such things will allow for ideal customization for you and your family during your next home renovation so that you can age gracefully in your home, where you are most comfortable.

Thank you!

Melinda Dzinic

Author: Melinda Dzinic
Author: Melinda Dzinic

Melinda Dzinic is the founder and CEO of Euro Design Build. She has a deep passion for creating beautiful, healthy spaces for families, knowing that people’s homes are a foundation for living a richer life experience. She is a NARI Certified home remodeler whose eye for design and tireless professionalism has made her one of the top voices in Texas’s home renovation industry.

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