Aging in Place Checklist

Aging in Place Checklist

Age-in-place remodeling generally follows the aging-in-place checklist recommendations we have set out below. But we first discuss the reasons for its growing importance.

The Importance of Planning for Aging in Place

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines aging in place as “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently and comfortably, regardless of age, income or ability level.”

We want to help our Baby Boomer population enjoy their retirement life longer, more fully, and in style by suggesting the subtle incorporation of aging-in-place design features into their remodel project. And, of course, the recommendations here are also for the benefit of younger people who may be planning long-term for themselves, or who need to make provisions for older family members.

The typical American home is designed for able-bodied young adults. But as the baby boom generation ages, boomers are looking for ways to make the typical home accommodate their changing bodies. They want this done as invisibly as possible and without loss of the style and comfort that they currently enjoy. Many designers and remodeling contractors are responding to the challenge.

This response stems from the Universal Design movement, also called “design for all” or “inclusive design,” where the concept is to make homes and furnishings function well for everyone, regardless of age, size, shape, or ability.

Our senior population now has the reason and the resources to comfortably and safely stay in their own home (with or without caregiver help) rather than go into Assisted Living or a nursing home. More than 90% of seniors would rather live in their own homes than move into some kind of facility. Currently, there are more than 46 million US seniors over age 65. This is predicted to increase to almost 90 million by 2050.

Obviously, this is putting great pressure on the existing housing stock to adapt to the task of accommodating this population. In fact, aging in place is forcing a revolution in the remodeling industry.

And let’s not forget that the design principles involved are also highly appropriate as we make provision for the proper treatment and accommodation of our wounded warriors.

Designing for Aging in Place Remodeling

A well-designed remodel provides for ‘aging in place’ in elegance and style and there is a large array of design ideas, design standards, resources, and manufactured items from which the remodeler can draw. We have listed many of them below and in doing so note that ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance and Universal Design standards, while having, different purposes, both make useful contributions to the cause of aging in place remodeling.

The features we have listed in the checklists below are organized for reference and with some repetition to help you think through your own requirements. Every feature is by no means applicable in every case. Rather these are menu items and food for thought for people considering aging-in-place remodeling.

Technology Caution: Smart Home technology is all the rage but don’t obsess about it and remember that some older people can get confused by tech. A user-friendly underlying physical infrastructure is what really matters with Aging-in-Place. It is permanent, while the tech is ever-changing.

That said, by all means, explore the voice-activated applications offered by Alexa and Google Home and increasingly incorporated by appliance and lighting manufacturers. And also explore third-party services, who will set up home automation for you.

General Aging in Place Remodeling


1: Adapt the lower floor of the home for possible one-level living

2: Wider (48”) hallways (structure permitting)

3: Easy garage or parking access

4: At least one entry is without steps

5: Door peephole at a low height

6: Doorways 36″ wide with off-set hinges on doors

7: Pocket Doors

8: Automatic Door Operators

9: Levered door handles instead of knobs

10: Easy to open or lock patio doors and screens

11: Lower window sills especially for windows on the street

12: Shelf outside the front door (to place packages while searching for keys)

13: Wheelchair ramps

14: Wheelchair lifts

15: Stairway power chair lifts

16: Railings

17: Patient Lifts

18: Stair Lifts

19: Elevators

20: Pool and Spa Lifts

21: Lever-style door handles (easier than gripping knobs for people with limited dexterity)


22: Additional lighting Installed to remove dark areas and help illuminate transitions or steps

23: Increased incandescent general and specific task lighting but prefer LED

24: Increase natural light (windows, skylights, solar tubes)

25: Automated lighting (motion sensors)

26; Adjustable controls on light switches

27: Illuminated switches in bedrooms, baths, and hallways


28: Electrical outlets at 18 inches instead of 12

28: Light switches at 42″ instead of 48

29: Strobe light or vibrator-assisted smoke and burglar alarms

30: Additional outlets in front of cabinets

31: Larger panels (or sub-panels) to accommodate new appliances, medical devices, lifts, etc.

32: Back-up generator power for medical devices


33: Anti-scald devices (the skin of the elderly is less sensitive to heat and can be inadvertently scalded)

34: Foot pedal-operated faucets

35: Other hands-free faucets


36: Programmable thermostats for heating and cooling

37: Ceiling fans w/ remotes


38: Hardwood or tile flooring for ease of cleaning

39: Vinyl flooring for a softer feel

40: Nonskid flooring

41: Anti-slip coatings

42: Backer pads to prevent rugs sliding (preferably no rugs at all)

43: Step highlighting

44: Low-pile commercial carpet glued directly to the floor


45: Contrast colors between floor and walls

46: Color borders around floor and countertop edges

47: Matte finish paint, flooring, and countertops

48: Non-glare glass on artwork


49: Internet-based caregiver cameras to view what is happening in the house from any computer

50: Door cameras to see who is at the door from any computer or on closed-circuit television

51: Trip/fall alarms

52: Medication reminders

53: Emergency response system (installed or wearable)

Kitchen Specific Aging in Place Remodeling

Kitchen accessibility

54: Kitchen-floor edging in a contrasting color to help orient people with limited eyesight

55: Easy access ABC-rated fire extinguisher (A for paper/wood; B for flammable liquids; C for electrical)

Kitchen cabinets and counters

56: Kitchen cabinets with pull-out shelves

57: Easy clean countertop surfaces

58: Create a workspace with knee/ wheelchair clearance

59: Easy-to-grasp cabinet knobs or pulls

60: Place sink near the stove (but have a “landing” counter space in between

61: Task lighting under upper cabinets

62: Adjustable upper shelves and pull-out lower shelves

63: Variety in height of kitchen counters with some as low as 30 inches

64: Color or pattern borders at counter edges

65: Lazy Susans

66: Pull-out storage

67: Full extension drawers

68: Cabinet doors that retract to leave knee space for people in wheelchairs

69: Extra deep and high toe kick to allow wheelchair user foot space

70: A counter that slides out from under the oven

71: Rounded counter edges

72: Counters and sinks you can raise and lower

73: Movable kitchen island on lockable casters

74: Comfort height counters

75: Multi-height counters

76: ADA-compliant cabinets (higher toe kicks, lower countertops, etc.)

77: Pull-out steps around the perimeter of cabinets for easy reach of upper cabinets

78: Roll-out shelving

79: Cabinet lifts

80: Glass-front upper cabinets for visibility

81: Plenty of storage within the so-called “optimal reach” zone. This is the space between 20 and 44 inches above the floor and 20 inches from the body)

82: Use drawers rather than cupboards where possible.

83: Use of C or D-type handles on cabinets

Kitchen Appliances

84: Accessible appliances, such as drawer dishwashers positioned on either side of the sink in lieu of the standard dishwasher with its awkward drop-down front.

85: A multitasking convection/microwave at shoulder height

86: French door ovens to avoid stooping for the awkward dropdown front oven

87: ADA-compliant appliances

88: Easy-to-reach controls

89: Dishwasher elevated for greater accessibility

90: Dishwasher drawers

91: Cooktop controls in front

92: Color-contrasted controls for people with low vision

93: Magnetic induction cooktop for greater safety

94: Side-by-side refrigerator/freezer (doors have narrower swing radius)

95: French door oven (easier to use than the drop-down front oven)

96: Gas sensor near gas cooking, water heater, and gas furnace

Kitchen Sinks and Faucets

97: Single handle control, side-mounted for easier reach

98: Adjustable height sink

99: Hands-free faucet

100: Pull-out sprayer

101: Pot filler faucet located close to the cooktop

102: Reduced depth sinks (for wheelchair access)

103: Motorized sink (raise and lower to suit a wheelchair user)

104: Easy-to-reach disposal switch

105: Anti-scald device for faucet

Bathroom Specific Aging in Place Remodeling

General Bathroom Accessibility

106: Telephone jack (yes – mobile phones are not senior-friendly and we like landlines for back-up)

107: Wet Room: incorporates a shower, tub, and toilet all in one easy-to-clean area

108: Bathrooms with a turnaround and transfer space for walker or wheelchair (36″ by 36″)

109: Wheelchair-accessible sinks and vanities

110: Anti-scald device on the water heater


111: Lever faucets and faucet mixers with anti-scald valves

112: Hands-free sink faucets (proximity triggered or foot pedal operated)

113: Accessible sink (cantilevered to allow for wheelchair below)

114: Higher bathroom counters


115: Taller (comfort height) toilets rather than institutional toilet extenders

116: Wall-mounted toilets for easier cleaning

117: Automatic/Hands-free flushing devices

118: Bidet or “washlet.” This is a toilet seat bidet by Toto. You need an electrical outlet nearby


119: Temperature-controlled shower and tub fixtures

120: Stall shower with a low or no threshold and shower seat/transfer bench

121: Bench in tub

122: Bench in shower

123: Grab bars at back and sides of the shower, tub and toilet or wall reinforcement for later installation)

124: Walk-in tub

125: Walk-in/roll-in accessible shower

126: Bath lifts

127: Easy-use, adjustable height shower heads

128: Shower hoses and hand-held showerheads

129: Multiple showerhead systems (“Shower Tower” by Kohler)

130: Steam shower/sauna: great for anyone but exercise proper caution.

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