8 universal design products to help you and your loved ones age in place

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My grandparents have been youthful for as long as I can remember. They were party people at one point in life. In another, they traveled the world, climbing waterfalls and drinking with strangers. Through it all, they owned a store that they religiously kept open seven days a week.

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But age has stubbornly set in. As they have had to give up many of the activities that once epitomized their fierce independence, aging in place has been a way to protect and extend their independence at home.

For them—and for millions of others in their demographic—aging is an emotional, disillusioning thing. While you can’t take emotion out of the equation, adding universal design elements to a home is a practical, investable step you can take on behalf of your aging loved ones or to make any home more accessible regardless of physical ability. Here are eight products that help make aging in place possible.

Grab bars that don’t look like grab bars

That Invisia™ Grab Bar Collection from The Wright Stuff is a stylish grab system that seamlessly integrates into existing bathroom designs. Unlike standard grab bars, which have two points of contact with the wall, Invisia’s grab bars attach to the wall at four different points to ensure reliable, long-lasting structural support.

“Every home should have handles in the shower and bathtub,” says Joya Fields, a home transition specialist with Shamrock Hill Design. “Invisia also has glow-in-the-dark knob covers to help children and adults find doorways safely.”

Hardware that can turn any door into a sliding door

With DesignGlide hardware from Jeld-Wen, any standard size door can be converted into a sliding barn door – a simple renovation that saves space and makes it easier for those who use mobility aids to open and close the door. Doors from Jeld-Wen are also equipped with soft-close hinges, which provides better security for users compared to traditional entrance doors.

A bed with all the bells and whistles

That Renew the Wellness Retreat bed system from Ergomotion is designed with sleep safety for seniors in mind. The bed height can be easily adjusted to allow users to get in and out of bed safely, easily and independently. The bed also comes with leg and foot heating functions to promote circulation, a sleep tracker and a preset circulation cycle function that can help relieve muscle pain.

A stairlift fitted for straight, curved or outdoor stairs

Bruno’s range of stairlifts is made to fit any staircase and any budget. The Elan Straight Stair Lift is the company’s most popular lift on the market – it has a narrow vertical rail design so the lift doesn’t block the entire staircase.

“The stairlift is extremely important for seniors living in multi-unit homes,” says Thomas Rando, owner and president of Clearview Home & Property Inspections. “Seniors who have difficulty getting up and down stairs or are at risk of falling can benefit from this product. Stairlifts can be fitted to straight, curved or outdoor stairs.”

A closet rod that brings hanging things to you

Rev-A-Shelf’s Pull-Down Closet Clutter can make any cabinet accessible, regardless of the user’s stature. The system comes in three different widths to accommodate a variety of cabinets, while the rod itself is adjustable from 34 to 50 inches. Hanging objects can be accessed by pulling the rod down, where it can then be locked into place.

Touch-to-open systems for drawers and cabinets

The grass Tipmatic and Sensomatic touch-to-open systems are perfect for seniors – especially those who have limited mobility or find traditional cabinet handles difficult and painful to maneuver. With the Tipmatic system, the drawer or door to a kitchen, bathroom or bedroom can be opened by pressing a panel. With the Sensomatic system, the drawer or door is activated by pressing anywhere on the surface of the drawer front.

A walk-in bathtub with spa-like features

A walk-in bathtub from Universal bathtub is equipped with standard safety features including a low-entry threshold, a built-in grab handle that can be safely reached, non-slip textured floors and ADA-compliant seating. On top of that, the bathtub has whirlpool, aero-therapy and quick-drain options for added comfort and convenience.

“The hot tub is not only easy to get into, but reduces the risk of falling,” says Rando. “Furthermore, many of the new models out there also have a number of luxury features such as heated surfaces and water jets that seniors really enjoy.”

Voice controlled blinds and curtains

Graber’s motorized window treatments has been developed with convenience and ease of use in mind. All systems have multiple control options to suit both tech users and I-miss-my-flip-phone types. Users can control window treatments and set them to a personal schedule using a remote control or the Graber Motorization App. Alternatively, the window treatments can be connected to a voice assistant in the home, such as Google Home or Amazon Alexa, to enable voice command.

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