AARP surveys indicate that almost 90% of those over 50 want to stay in their homes indefinitely. In light of that trend, AARP and NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) have developed the Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) training program to educate builders and remodelers on ways to make a home safer and more workable for homeowners at any age. “Universal design” is another term used when referring to homes modified to meet the needs of older persons or the handicapped.
The most popular installations have been bathroom grab bars, higher toilets, curb less showers, widened doors, ramps and lowered thresholds.
Not everyone who incorporates universal design concepts in remodeling is doing it specifically for aging in place; some want to accommodate disabled friends and relatives or provide the option to easily install additional modifications when they get older.
The cost of aging in place renovations is variable, but many times they are similar in price to more traditional design. A complex adaptation, like a curb less shower, might be a bit more expensive. It is usually much less costly to do a remodel as a universal design or CAPS style, than to have to tear it out and make changes later.
Aging in place tends to focus on assistive adaptations for those who want to maintain their privacy and autonomy as they age. These adaptations include changing doorknobs to lever type and light switches to paddles for easier use by those with arthritis; eliminating carpeting and variations in floor height for easier walker and wheelchair use and creating greater contrast in lighting to make it easier to see the task at hand.