Top Design Changes for an Aging in Place Home Remodel?

Remaining in your home as you get older will require an aging in place remodel to keep you safe.

As a generation, Baby Boomers have always been independent, and as they begin to reach retirement age, that trend continues! Aging in place is a growing trend for aging boomers, and many are opting to remain in their home as a choice for their retirement. To remain in your home safely and comfortably as you age, you may require some remodeling enhancements and design changes within your home.

If you are an older homeowner who wants to stay in your home, you will have special considerations. When planning renovations to your home after age 50, you might take future considerations like fading eyesight, mobility issues, and arthritic joints into account.

Manufacturers are aware of the trend as the massive waves of boomers enters retirement. In response, all manner of products, services, and design ideas are being developed that cater to the over 50 crowd.

Builders Weigh In

This new construction home has an oversized level-entry shower created to be accessible by wheel chair. The toilet is set up for transfer, adjacent to a cabinet which contains extra supplies.

The construction industry is on board with this trend as well. CAPS certification from the NAHB has builders, remodelers, architects, designers and even occupational therapists buzzing. CAPS is an acronym for Certified Aging in Place Specialist.

The CAPS program goes well beyond universal design concepts to independent living principals that are sweeping changes and retrofits designed to allow seniors to live in their homes safely and comfortably as they age. CAPS designs maintain a focus on elegant and aesthetically pleasing, easy to maneuver barrier free environments. In fact, according to realtors, these design changes can actually increase the value of your home. The CAPS program focuses on the needs of the particular clients, and clients can tailor the amount of modifications to their current or expected abilities, based on family history or known a diagnosis.

One vanity is traditional, while the other has an angled base to conceal plumbing pipes while allowing for wheel chair accessibility. It is also important to consider the elevation of mirrors for each user of the bathroom.

When compared to the typical cost of moving to an assisted living facility, which can cost up to $60,000 or more annually, aging in place retrofits and design modifications are an economic no brainer. The cost of modifying a bathroom, including widening doors, adding safety bars and adding a no threshold roll-in shower typically costs under $15,000 and is a one time expense. As an added bonus, aging in place modifications that are medically necessary, like a roll-in shower and wider doors, are tax deductible with a doctor's note.

Necessary Changes To Consider When Aging in Place

The overall approach is to make your home safer, barrier free and easy to maintain. Changes can be done in every room of the house to meet this goal. Smart design changes and renovations can make aging in place affordable, comfortable and safe.

Here are some renovation ideas to consider when remodeling your home for aging in place.


Wider doors, attractive ramps, and zero-threshold doors are some key improvements to make. Consider adding a package shelf to prevent bending over, and better outdoor lighting to make getting from the car to the house easier.


Simple changes in the kitchen can make cooking and eating easier as you age. Pull out shelves, revolving corner shelves, pull out cutting boards and side opening ovens are all conveniences that can make food prep easier. Lever handles on the faucet, and a pull-out sprayer can make clean up a breeze.


This accessible shower was retrofit into an existing bathroom, where the bathtub used to be. The entire bathroom floor has been waterproofed to accommodate any overspray due to the relatively small space.

Most accidents in the home happen in the bathroom. Aging in place renovations can keep older homeowners safe. Consider attractive shower grab bars, lever handles on faucets, and the shower, anti-scald thermostatic temperature controls and slide bar shower heads to accommodate standing or sitting are all simple changes that can make life easier. Also widened doors, and high toilets with slow-close lids can make late night trips to the bathroom safer. You might even consider a LED night light toilet seat if you are daring.

Other Changes Throughout the Home

Virtually every space in the home can be improved including hallways, closets and the garage. Consider these changes:

• Improved lighting in common areas and hallways

• Lever handles for doors and windows

• Lowered light switches and remote control thermostats like Nest

• Raised outlet for easier access

• Adding blocking to walls to accommodate a future stair mounted chair lift

• Wider doors to accommodate walkers or wheelchairs

These are just a few ideas that can make aging in place safer and more comfortable for older adults. At Degnan Design-Build-Remodel we've been helping our older Madison, WI clients interested in remaining in their homes with new designs created to make aging in place a viable and affordable alternative to assisted living.

 If you're considering a home improvement project like a kitchen or bathroom remodel, and you're planning on remaining in your home, consider adding some aging in place amenities. They can help keep you in your home safely and comfortably in the coming years. Contact us to talk to a design expert and talk about your upcoming project! We know how to help.

This article was updated by Abe Degnan on 1/8/2018.

About Degnan Design Build Remodel
Since 1981 Degnan Design Build Remodel has provided home improvement and construction services to customers throughout Greater Madison, Wisconsin. Our goal is to WOW you with a "Designed For Your Life" solution using a process that will transform your home into a beautiful living space, delivered on time, and on budget. We are known for our communication, respectfulness, and a commitment to our customers and our community. Contact us to speak with one of our designers about your home improvement project.