Design issues for ageing in place

A plan for living independently into your 90’s.

Key Requirements

Low set home, one story
Accessibility for all life events
No trip and falls hazards
Prevention of unnecessary strains


  1. Sensor lights
  2. No stairs, Gentle gradient ramp (no steep sides)
  3. Doorways: No small lips: wide enough for a walker/wheelchair – 850mm
  4. Hall width 1000mm

Doors to rooms:

  1. Inset sliding doors
  2. No doors


  1. Easy care – probably not carpet
  2. No rugs on floor (trip hazards)

Bathrooms: (close to bedroom)

  1. Space to manoeuvre crutches, walker, wheelchair
  2. Shower with no shower doors (Piece of glass/Perspex only)
  3. Tap design
  4. Removable shower hose rather than above head fixture.
  5. Non-skid tiles
  6. Toilet: in the bathroom
  7. High pan toilet (19 inches versus 15 inches)
  8. Facilities for rails (not yet!)


  1. Bed high enough, firm enough to get in and out of (not too high, not too low)
  2. Sliding door cupboards
  3. Maybe usual door for bedroom door
  4. Accessible power sockets

Kitchen design: (accessibility)

  1. Drawers in kitchen not cupboards
  2. Taps
  3. Restrict/avoid high cabinets – access via a step ladder is a falls risk
  4. Kitchen hot plates and raised oven (access, avoid bending/lifting from a low oven)
  5. Microwave accessible height
  6. 2 drawer dishwashers (so can be a waist height)
  7. Easy access to toaster, kettle
  8. Bottom mount fridge


  1. Furniture high enough
  2. Reduce clutter (trip hazard)
  3. Accessible power sockets
  4. Space for a small exercise area: weights or resistance training


  1. Accessible with inside drying area
  2. Easy access to ironing board


  1. Easy access to house and kitchen
  2. Remote control garage door


  1. Low maintenance garden – small trees, shrubs
  2. High maintenance garden - vegetables, flowers - raised garden beds to hip height - width 1 metre, access both sides

Related Articles

Dr Gwen Jull