universal designs

Notice this home has no steps leading up to the door - zero step entry.jpgHi there and welcome to a special post that is part of the #Blog4Care blog carnival being hosted by Caring Across Generations. We hope that by sharing our caregiving stories, we can begin to come up with solutions to the care crisis that is affecting millions of Americans.

Most of the homes I have bought or rented over the years have been older ones. One was only five years old. Three or four were built in the 1940s-70s. One was a Craftsman home built in 1925! And one of my loved ones beat that with a gorgeous 1900 vintage home. But I have enjoyed buying one house when it was brand new construction. That gave me the opportunity to have a wishlist of aging in place options that I added to it – even though I didn't realize that's what they were. And yes! That was a lot of fun!!! 🙂

My wish list then was based on my family needs at the time, including my senior dad having Parkinsons Disease that was progressing. I knew there was an excellent chance he and my mom would eventually move in with me – and they did. So I made sure the walls were wide enough to be wheelchair accessible, as well as the sidewalk in the backyard. I added plenty of grab bars. I didn't know enough, then, to ask for a zero step entry, but was blessed by one anyway! 🙂 Even then, the threshold was bumpy enough, we eventually added a little wheelchair ramp that helped me as I pushed him in and out of the house. But not having any steps in the front really helped! 

Nowawadays, if I was buying new construction, I would have a much longer wish list that would make a home even more practical for my senior mom, myself, and anyone else who visits or lives there, be it senior citizen or my young grandkids. Simple age in place options and universal designs that don't necessarily cost a lot, but add a lot to peace of mind and easier senior living. Things like:

Pretty in pink this bathroom sink is also practical for elderly seniors who want good aging in place options

  • Single story home if at all possible
  • Easy to use handles for sinks, showers, and door handles throughout the home – probably lever-style like in the photo above
  • I love the new concept of showers with no threshold at the bottom so you can just wheel into it if necessary – but only if it can also have doors. Otherwise it might be too chilly for an elderly parent.
  • Seats in the shower 
  • At least one good size bathroom that allows for a wheelchair or walker someday (two if it is a two story home)
  • Raised toilets or handicapped toilets throughout the home that aren't necessarily super tall but aren't really low to the ground either – allowing for ease of use by all
  • Grab bars by each toilet, each tub/shower, and in lieu of towel racks as well
  • If it's two story – a bedroom and a bathroom WITH a shower and/or accessible tub on the main floor – one that's big enough for wheelchairs or walkers
  • If it's two story – a laundry room on the main floor (my sweet mom lives for her laundry 🙂 )
  • Plenty of cupboard space in the kitchen, including options down below for those using a wheelchair or young grandkids. I always used to keep my main dishes down below when my kids were young, just so they could easily get to them.
  • When possible, appliances down at easy reach for wheelchair use.
  • Flooring that is safe for all ages. I personally like carpets but not too high to make a wheelchair easier. The blue carpet below would be OK but an even tighter weave makes the wheels work easier. And I love Armstrong's vinyl tile that looks like gorgeous stone, brick, etc. but is easy to clean and less slippery. I had a real stone floor entry-way in my home before, and that helped contribute to my broken ankle. 

This blue carpet should work ok for a wheelchair or a rollator tho even less plush makes it even easier

I realize many of you reading this are not in a wheelchair. Neither am I. BUT I spent a few weeks in one when I had to deal with a temporary disability due to my broken ankle and would greatly have appreciated all of these excellent senior solutions. They are also a benefit to an elderly senior whose range of motion has been curtailed due to aging or falls. And I know my grandkids would all appreciate many of these options. That's what I love about Universal Design – it really is designed for universal use. I can't urge builders strongly enough to think about simple things like these that would be such a blessing to so many including our beloved senior citizens. Not to mention the fact that it seems like they would be excellent selling points to help them market their properties, as well as help their buyers in so many ways – especially with the Silver Tsunami that is going on. 🙂

I was just talking to real estate clients about all these concepts this week. They, too, have senior parents who may be moving in with them eventually and were also starting to think along these lines. And with that "Silver Tsunami" coming quickly, we are all hoping awareness will start to escalate and give everyone more and better choices in the years to come.

How about you? Are you caring for elderly parents at home or thinking about it? Or perhaps helping senior parents with practical aging in place options? Do you have any more ideas for this list? We'd love to hear them. Don't forget to check out the other posts in this #Blog4Care blog carnival. And have a grand week! 🙂

Fun for grandparents - in OR out of the Sandwich Generation at the Grand Social

Kaye Swain Keller Williams REALTOR visits boomer and grandparent Kathryn Ross The Writers Reverie

Beverly's Got so many cute pink things each Saturday including lovely homes and home decor - great for creative ideas when you are moving to a new home


Click here for help with your real estate search for homes by Kaye Swain REALTOR®




This lovely home near my Keller Williams Realty is a good example of several terrific aging in place options-Kaye Swain REALTORI'm adding this post to the #Blog4Care blog carnival being hosted by Caring Across Generations. We hope that by sharing our caregiving stories about  the changes that we have made due to caregiving, we can begin to come up with solutions to the care crisis that is affecting millions of Americans. 🙂 For example, my senior mom and I have moved a few times in the last ten years, due to health issues in our extended family. It's been a blessing to us to be able to do this and an exciting adventure in each new city. Every time we've moved, my list of requirements for home searching has "morphed" a bit, as my grandkids and I love to say. 

On our last journey, my list included:

  • bathroom on the main floor
  • bedroom on the main floor
  • laundry room on the main floor
  • kitchen on the main floor
  • no smells from cigarettes/cigars 
  • safe neighborhood
  • sidewalk for walking

Those were also on the previous list as well. Then came some morphing that we had to add as we house-hunted – 

  • bathroom on the main floor had to have a shower (we had the hardest time finding that!) 
  • there had to be an entrance to the house with a minimal amount of steps (preferably none, but we settled on two-three)
  • a garage door with an opener (took us a while to get ours to work but finally – SWEET SUCCESS!)
  • a new home with easier handles to use (we had to settle on an older home with enough updates to help my mom and happily, her area had the easier handles)
  • a yard with a least a little garden for my mom and a play area for grandkids – and easy to walk in (two we looked at had rocks on the ground or bark on the whole yard – making it very unsafe for an elderly senior
  • NO sunken living rooms (I had to say no to TWO houses I liked for just that reason)

We weren't able to get the sidewalks, but there are cul-de-sacs and walking trails relatively close. And my mom no longer walks alone so we were ok with that. I would have loved to add some other items to our list, however, such as:

  • grab bars throughout the home
  • ramps for at least one door, just in case we need it down the road
  • other aging in place options

But, while handy for all ages, those aren't necessary for my senior mom. At least, not YET. And that's good because those can often be hard to find.

We're not ready to buy yet, but if we were, I did spot one very cool home for sale when one of the real estate agents in my office showed it off at our weekly meeting. It was GORGEOUS! An older home, 1953, it has been majorly and wonderfully updated. A lot of the floors are hardwood (nice for wheelchair use), coupled with ceramic tile, vinyl, and even some wall to wall carpet. Notice all the space in the kitchen – grand when you have to use a wheelchair like my dad did the last year of his life.

Gorgeous and big kitchen for multigenerational family or aging in place-via Kaye Swain REALTOR

The master suite has a bathroom that is gorgeous. Most people would be drooling over the huge jetted tub. But my eyes were immediately drawn to the open walk-in shower with grab bars and a shower on a hose. PERFECT for a senior parent or two.

Remodeled bathroom with shower perfect for elderly senior or wheelchair - grand for aging in place

And oh my! My grandkids would be enthralled with the back yard that includes an athletic court and net for pickleball, tennis, basketball, and a wide variety of other sports. 

This gorgeous play yard could work well for multigenerational living or be fun for the grandkids to visit

With 2,291 square feet, this three bedroom (and office) home offers plenty of room for several options – from a senior couple aging in place to a multigenerational family caring for an aging parent and more. I'm sure the new owners are thrilled with it right now! And it gives us such a good example.

Those are the kinds of things I look for when house-hunting, whether to buy or to rent. How about you? What do you and your family look for as you deal with various caregiving needs? Have you looked at any 55+ senior communities? We have Sun City and The Club at Westpark by Del Webb here in Roseville CA, among other excellent options. How about your neck of the woods? We'd love to hear.