Age in Place House Plans: How to Optimize Retirement Living at Home

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Where would you like to live in your golden years? If you said, 'at home,' you're not alone. More than 85% of older adults wish to stay in their own homes as they age, according to a recent AARP survey. Some prefer to be in a home they've come to love and cherish, while others want to build a new home that fits their needs for retirement. 

There are many aspects to consider with age in place house plans to make sure your home is safe, comfortable, and able to adapt to physical needs that will change over time. Read on to learn more about choosing the perfect house plan for aging in place!

What is a House Plan?

A house plan is a set of drawings or blueprints outlining the specifications of a residential house, including dimensions, materials, layouts, installation methods, and techniques. It may also include details about electrical, plumbing, and mechanical systems. 

Architects and builders use house plans to create a building that meets the homeowner's needs. They can be custom-designed by an architect where the design choices are tailored to the individual needs and wants of the homeowner, or someone can purchase pre-made plans (sometimes referred to as stock plans) that are available from various sources.

When considering house plans for aging in place, it's important to consider design elements that will help make your home easier to navigate as you and your loved ones get older.

Ipad and paper home layout design

Selecting Age in Place House Plans

Choosing a house plan for aging in place can be a challenging process. With the growing population of Baby Boomers, age in place home plans are becoming more popular among builders. 

Whether in a 55+ community or on your own building lot, seniors must make many design choices. Some selections should be based on sound aging in place design principles. Other, less critical decisions allow you to customize the home to your liking and more specific needs. With custom building, the options are endless.

Finding the right design plan is extremely important, as it will provide you with the comfort and convenience of living in a home that suits your needs and lifestyle. The main goal of age in place house plans is to help seniors live more independently and be able to do things for themselves as they age. This, in turn, will improve quality of life.

For most people, an age in place home will be their forever home where they plan to continue living for as long as possible as they get older. This home should have all the features needed to support them throughout their retirement, even if their needs change, such as mobility challenges.

It should also be a time to consider your desired retirement lifestyle and extra features to make life more enjoyable, such as hobby rooms, outdoor patios, and gardens.

Happy older couple sitting in front of retirement dream home

Customizing a Home Plan for Aging in Place

Most general house plans can be customized with aging in place features. It is crucial to find a professional who can provide recommendations and create a custom home design plan that fits the specific needs of the older adults who will live there. 

An aging in place specialist (often a physical or occupational therapist), an interior designer, and an architect, based on their area of expertise, are professionals who can help create a plan that meets the needs of the person looking to age in place.

How to Design Houses to Age in Place

Designing a house to age in place requires the application of specific strategies and modifications to facilitate an older person's ability to remain living independently at home. 

It is essential to think about the unique needs of those who will live there and how they will use the home, as this will affect the layout and features of the house. This type of design prioritizes safety, accessibility, comfort, convenience, and ease of use, which makes for a highly functional and versatile home. 

Universal design principles are a vital part of creating the best age in place home design that is not only safe and accessible but also designed with flexibility in mind. When chosen correctly, homeowners can have peace of mind knowing their home has adaptable features, so they won't have to worry about making any major renovations like adding ramps or moving bedrooms later when needs change.

Model of age in place house plan with architecture plans

Essential Features of a Senior-Friendly Home

No-Step Entry

This type of entrance, often a zero-step or ramped access, eliminates the need for steps at the front door and makes it easier for seniors to enter and exit the home. 

Single-Level Living

Single-level living is the most common and preferred design for age in place house plans. On a single level, there are no stairs to navigate, which makes it much easier for seniors to get around the home. 

Having first-floor living with a master bedroom suite and accessible bath is a common and handy feature that provides convenience and flexibility. A multi-level home is also an option if there is elevator access or potential. 

Wider Doorways and Hallways

Wide doorways and hallways make it easier to maneuver with assistive devices. Additionally, they allow roomy pathways with enough room for two people to fit in if a caregiver is needed. 

Architect with aging in place house plans at the new home build construction site

Accessible Bathrooms

Installing a curbless shower, accessible sink, and a higher toilet seat with adequate open space and a wider doorway are all necessary for a functional and safe bathroom that is wheelchair accessible if needed. Additionally, wheelchair access may require more square footage.

Open Floor Plans

An open floor plan provides the living space to move around the house more easily using assistive devices such as walkers, wheelchairs, and scooters. 

Convenient Switches and Controls

Keeping electrical outlets, light switches, and USB posts closer to waist height decreases the need to strain or stretch. This can be especially beneficial for those with balance and strength limitations and those who use a wheelchair. In addition, installing smart technology with remote and motion sensor lights and switches adds further convenience. 

Custom age in place home design plans for storage and organization

How Much Do Age in Place House Plans Cost?

The cost of architectural plans can vary greatly depending on the project's complexity and the home's size. For a basic, one-story house, you may find some plans for as little as $500, but for more complex designs or larger homes, expect to pay $2,000 or more.

For age in place house plans specifically, the cost may be greater. These plans are designed with more accessible features to make it easier for seniors and people with disabilities to live comfortably.

If you find a stock home plan you like, an aging in place specialist and architect can help you modify it to include age-friendly features.

Final Thoughts and Next Steps - Age in Place Home Plans

Aging in place home plans provide a safe, comfortable, and accessible living environment for those who wish to age gracefully in their homes. Carefully choose house plans to accommodate current and future needs. With the proper design considerations, you don't need to sacrifice style or livability while enjoying the golden years in the comfort of your home.

When you're ready to get started, check out the Retirement Independence Home Design Road Map. It's a great resource to enhance your knowledge and help guide you toward planning the best home environment for you and your loved ones.

About the Author

As a home health Physical Therapist for over 20 years, I help clients solve home dilemmas so they can live their best life.

I'm here to use that same problem-solving expertise and training as a Certified Aging in Place Specialist to help you create an optimized home that's forward-thinking and future-ready to support you and your loved ones well for a lifetime.

Ready to discover your Golden Girl strategy for a retirement-ready home?