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Is Universal Design the Same as Aging-in-Place Design?

by Mike Dodd, Home Remodeling Expert
June 26, 2015

Question: Is universal design the same as aging-in-place design?

Answer: Universal design and aging in place design are often confused as being one in the same. The primary difference is that universal design implies inclusiveness for anyone and everyone while aging in place typically focuses on a more narrow demographic of people wanting to remain at home as they age.  While universal design can't plan for every possible disability, it does incorporate design principles to accommodate a wide range of individuals, and does so in an aesthetically pleasing fashion. Properly implemented, universal design should provide access for any individual regardless of size, age or ability and it should always be attractive. Universal design principles certainly are rooted in aging in place design, but aging in place goes a step further by addressing the specific needs of a homes' inhabitants, such as wider doorways, lever-style door hardware, barrier-free showers, etc. It is preferable to remain at home and adapt the space to accommodate one's needs verses moving to alternative living situations. It is also a great deal more economical to remain at home which, at the end of the day, is where we all want to be as we age.

Mike Dodd is the founder and President of Lifewise Renovations, that combines home remodeling project management with the expertise of health care professionals, to make it possible live safely and comfortably at home regardless of age or physical ability. As a member of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), Mike holds the Certified Aging In Place Specialist (CAPS) designation.

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