WaPo: Home Renovations Turn Toward Aging

A reverse mortgage is often touted as a helpful financial tool that older Americans can use to make aging-friendly upgrades to their homes. 

Some of these home renovations include widening doorways, kitchen and bathroom updates and even installing elevators, according to a recent Washington Post column by Julia Caswell Daitch, the principal architect of Caswell Daitch Architects.

“If you succeed in transforming homes, you transform lives,” she writes. “One of my passions is to find better ways to age in place — changing our homes to accommodate a disability or reduced mobility, rather than going to an assisted living facility.”

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In the design process, Caswell Daitch says solving the functional needs of a space is the easiest part. But taking into account privacy and accessibility issues requires thinking outside the box. 

She describes a project in which she added an entire master suite to an existing single-family residence. In order to ensure privacy of all those living in the home, her solution was to make a two-story foyer as an entry and as a separation space, with a large interior door separating the new master suite from the foyer.

“They say that fences make good neighbors — so install separation spaces like this foyer,” she writes. “Creative solutions like this are at the core of aging in place.”

Whatever additions or renovations are needed, Caswell Daitch advises homeowners start these projects early in the aging process. 

“My advice is to install the elevator, or do a lot of these types of changes, before you really need them. That way you can enjoy them as long as possible, as you age gracefully or when you find a sudden need,” she writes. “The last thing you want to worry about when dealing with a mobility crisis is modifying your home.”

To read the full Washington Post column, click here

Written by Emily Study