Universal Design focuses on the environment to ensure it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability. To explore what this means for remaining in one’s home, check out these resources.
AARP has created the HomeFit Guide with ideas from simple do-it-yourself fixes to improvements that are more involved and require skilled expertise. A check-list of 33 questions covers interior topics such as location of kitchen workspaces, accessibility of fire extinguisher within reach of the oven or stove, design of faucets, lighting in staircases, and shower with step-free entry. Topics from the exterior check list focus on visibility of the street address so emergency responders can locate the home, assuring entrances are free of clutter, handrails on both sides of all steps and stairways. The Guide provides worksheets, a HomeFit quiz, tips on hiring a contractor and remodeling costs.
Another resource is the Certified Aging in Place Specialists CAPS program. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) in collaboration with National Association Home Builders 55+ Housing Council and others developed this program. The CAPS curriculum includes courses in universal design, understanding the changing mobility of clients and aging, green design, and business and marketing principles to name just a few. While there are no fool proof ways for hiring the professional, the CAPS designation is an indication the industry recognizes a real need in both a human and business dimension.