Pair of hands framing a kitchen drawing plan

plan your home for retirement

Don’t Retire Your House. Retire WITH Your House.

Plan your home for retirement and learn how it can adapt to fit your life in the coming years.

You love your neighborhood and the great people in it. Your neighborhood is close to parks, lakes, and shopping. In the summer, there are block parties and picnics, gardening and perennial swapping, and kids biking up and down the street. As you plan for retirement, you realize this is exactly where you want to be and where you want to stay.

Elderly couple at table happy and smiling with thumbs up

Living-in-place without sacrificing style, design, or functionality.

You’re starting to wonder if this will be feasible. Your parents and older guests are starting to have problems getting up your front steps. The first-floor bathroom is cramped, and there’s nothing to grab onto if they lose their footing. Is this your future? Will you be able to grow old with your house?

According to AARP, about one percent of the 100 million homes in the U.S. are ready for “aging-in-place.”

There’s no about it that we are noticeably aging in Minnesota. Between 2010 and 2020, the number of residents 65 and older is expected to increase by 41 percent. We’re also less likely to move after we retire. To put it another way, we snowbirds are staying in the snow.

The best way to start is to closely examine each room in your home. You may benefit from checking out AARP’s Aging in Place Checklist for a more detailed checklist with bullet points for all areas of the home and precise measurements, and requirements. In the meantime, here are ideas on how to continue to live in place.

Prioritize One-Level Living

In general, the more you can locate essential spaces on the first level, the better. List your everyday tasks and how you would complete them if you had limited mobility. Which spaces would be too small, too high, or beyond your reach?  What could be moved or adjusted on your first floor to make it most useful?  Getting the laundry moved to your living level is very important!

Walk in shower with bright lighting, light brown custom square tile, removable spray head, shower seating and grab bars.

Accessible Bathroom

First, look at the size of the door, which typically is the smallest door in the house. Is it wide enough for a walker or wheelchair? Once you’re in the room, is there enough space to maneuver?

Also, think vertically. Do you have a low toilet and high sides on the tub? Both can be difficult to use if you have limited mobility. A quick way to check: would you be able to use them comfortably if your leg were in a full cast?

Take a look at our Universally Accessible St. Paul Condo for some universal design features we included for aging-in-place.

Brightly lit kitchen showing stainless appliances, center island, new cabinets, window over sink
A kitchen remodel in Mendota Heights designed with more space and lighting to accommodate aging needs.

Spacious and Bright Kitchens

Next, check the clearances around your cabinets, doorways, and islands. Is there enough room to open the refrigerator and oven doors, load and empty the dishwasher, and move between the counters and the stove? Are the sink and counters at a height that works for everyone? Also, check if the floor surfaces are slippery or uneven, which could cause tripping or falling. Check out our 1970s Rambler Reimagined project to view a kitchen designed for aging-in-place.

basement laundry with cabinets and counters

Better Laundry

If you have an older home, it’s likely that your laundry area is in the basement, requiring you to carry baskets up and down steep stairs. A creative repurposing of space on your first floor, plus a stacked washer and dryer, could save your knees and keep you in your house longer.

Elderly man at the bottom of a set of stairs looking to walk up holding onto handrail

Conquering the Stairs

Finally, take a look at how many stairs you have in your home. Stairs to the front and back door, stairs between floors, possibly multiple sets of stairs leading from landings. Even if you move most of your living space to the first floor, you may need to navigate entrance steps from the garage or yard. Remodeling tweaks can smooth out and remove these obstacles.

Our award-winning expertise in Universal Design will make sure that your renovation project enhances and improves your living space for many years to come.

Guide to Universal Design

Our in-depth guide to aging-in-place home design is packed with ideas and information.

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