- What is Aging in Place?
Often, people hear 'aging in place' and immediately think wheelchair accessible. The real issues are ones of safety related to decreases in strength, stamina, mobility, dexterity, and/or loss of hearing and vision. An aging-in-place remodel is about more than ramps and grab bars. It's about making your home safe, comfortable, and suited to your specific situation for all the stages of your life.

- What is at the top of the list of most requested accessibility remodels?
Converting standard tubs and showers to walk-in models are the most popular ways to make your bathroom safer and more user friendly. A larger-model walk-in shower with a low or nonexistent curb may work, but common changes include the installation of “comfort height toilets” and grab bars to make standing and balance easier. 

- How will an Aging in Place remodel affect my property value?
One sign of a good remodel is not being able to tell that it was made with limited mobility or access in mind. That being said, 10,000 Americans are turning 65 every day in the United States, so there is a good chance that accessibility improvements will improve your value.

- Can finishes be customized?
Yes. Some improved alterations that can actually enhance the aesthetics of your space are lever style knobs and handles. Traditional doorknobs and handles can be difficult to grip and operate. Lever-style features are easier to use and can add character to your space.
Grab bars and rails are now available in a variety of colors and finishes that look nice in any bathroom. Flooring is another consideration for both baths and kitchens. Textured surfaces increase traction and are ideal in the tub and shower area, and the overall floor. Nonslip coatings are also helpful on exterior surfaces such as decks, sidewalks and driveways.

- What does the CAPS certification entail?
The Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) Program was developed by AARP and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) to assist consumers in making their homes usable for a lifetime—regardless of their age, size, or functional ability. A traditionally designed home is not built to address the normal variation in functional ability typically seen among today’s homeowners. Numerous studies have revealed that over 80 percent of people aged 45 and over want to remain in the own homes for as long as possible (age in place).

- Advantages of an Aging in Place remodel with Zapata Design*  
• Enables you to live in your home safely, independently and comfortably, regardless of your age or mobility.
• Find simple solutions to start with, like the installation of grab bars or adjustment of your counter top.
• Redesign a multi-functional first floor master bedroom/office or bathroom.
• Deliver creative solutions to common environmental barriers.
• Help figure out a budget that you will need for your project(s), or phases toward goals.
• Consider the resale value of this investment in your home.
• Design a more functional kitchen or bathroom for you and your family.
• Oversee and manage a professional contractor with the right experience to fit your project.
Plan ahead in stages. By planning now, you can drive your future – make your own mold, rather than fitting into one.
• Select universal design features and home modifications that enable people to continue living independently in their homes for longer periods of time.


* Diana Zapata is also a Volunteer Board member of the NW Villages non-profit organization in Portland, Oregon.