Life Cycles Aging In Place - gracefully

Presented by: John Cravath – Cravath Homes, LLC and Accessibility Solutions

Photography by: R Thomas Sobotta 

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter. The seasons of life – they are a part of our life’s journey. 

Every one of them has its ups and its downs. As we age, we experience these ups and downs on a whole new level. Retirement can bring even more freedom than we expect. Oh the joy of owning our own schedules! We can travel, take on new hobbies, volunteer, or just relax. The upside of aging is easy to adjust to. Some of the other adjustments, however, are a little harder. The physical aspect of aging creeps up on us before we know it, and we have to take a good hard look at where we are and what we are capable of.

It can be an emotional time when you realize you are no longer able to live comfortably in your home. What was once a “comfort of home” is now becoming cumbersome to daily life. It is even affecting how active you are in your community. I am talking about outgrowing your home, literally. You dreamed of a sweeping staircase hovering over your foyer. It was a glowing spiral of sparkling garland during the holidays. It served as the backdrop for prom and first day of school photos, and plenty of opportunities for the “go to your room” lecture. Today, however, that staircase has become a daunting obstacle to getting to that first cup of coffee in the morning. If you can relate to this, read on about how we have been working to make the city of Rochester, Minnesota the destination for individuals and families to “Age-in-Place”.”

What is Aging-in-Place?

First, let me tell you what Aging-in-Place is not. It is NOT a senior apartment or an assisted living community, and it is definitely NOT moving to a condominium and losing the comforts and privacy of your current home. Aging-in-Place is about keeping the things that work for you and modifying the rest to suit your new needs. It is about creating a place where you can live independently within close proximity to the amenities and services you enjoy now without sacrificing the features of a high quality home.

What are My Options?

You may be wondering where to start when you are thinking about making a change to your living situation. Aging-in-Place remodeling is a fantastic option for you if you just cannot imagine parting with your current property. With a few tweaks, it can become exactly what you need. Within the pages of magazine, you will find companies that are helping families through their growing pains and making homes comfortable, accessible, and safe again. Aging-in-Place building has been highly successful in the Rochester, Minnesota area over the past two years. There is currently a high demand for homes that provide one level living and low maintenance lifestyles and builders in Rochester have been working hard to provide just that for residents and newcomers.


Living independently in the comfort of your home is not something you can put a price on. You can, however, decide how far you want to go in making your home accessible again. Transforming a step in fiberglass tub into a roomy roll-in shower with grab bars is something that a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) remodeler can do in no time. Transforming a two-story home into a zero entry living space, on the other hand, is typically not something that is going to be worth your time or money. If you are completely committed to your current home, you have countless options for remodeling.

What Aging-in-Place Remodeling & Products are Available?

When thinking of aging in your home, think inside and outside. A low maintenance exterior is something to think about as you mature, and vinyl is your best bet for a low maintenance siding material. You will want to think about landscaping and snow removal needs as well; planting low maintenance shrubs is a key component to maintaining a beautiful exterior with less attention needed on your part.

A Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist can help you ask all the right questions when considering your remodel. Does your kitchen have a layout that allows easy movement with a wheelchair? At least a 5-foot wide clearance is necessary to maneuver safely. Is the tile in your home as safe as it could be? Nonslip tile should be installed near exterior doorways as well as in bathrooms and showers. Adding anti-scalding valves in the bathroom is another highly beneficial risk management suggestion. Having a main level laundry room is another favorable home feature. However, if that is absolutely not possible, a laundry chute can be installed near the bedroom.

Other small improvements that can be made include installing sensor lighting or adding more light switches in hallways and large, open areas; swapping old single pole light switches for sweep or touch switches. Levered doorknobs are easier to maneuver than typical circular models. Upgrading to a pullout spray faucet in the kitchen is a fantastic quick fix that will make cooking and cleaning easier.

What are the Benefits of Aging-in-Place?

With the use of Universal Design techniques, your home can be both functional and luxurious without giving up the features you love about your home. Universal Design focuses on a barrier free, accessible, and adaptable environment. That means you can safely live independently in your home and keep its functionality for your family and future generations. The benefits of having this type of freedom are substantial. Think of all you will be able to do inside and outside your home!

If after reading about the remodeling options available for Aging-in-Place, you realize your living space is just too different from what the end goal is, do not fret. There are Aging-in-Place properties available in Rochester, Minnesota. Zero entry town homes with handicap accessible layouts and luxurious features are available to you today. See the homes featured in the video below. These properties offer complete customization and accessibility to its residents such as expansive roll-in showers, 36-inch doorways, zero entry throughout all entrances and passageways, custom counter heights, reinforced walls for adding grab bars as necessary, luxurious materials such as granite counters, hardwood flooring, solid 6-panel doors, custom cabinetry, higher than standard toilets, 36-inch stairways to accommodate chair lifts, if needed, and much more.

What Now?

A Certified-Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) is far and beyond your best resource when thinking about an Aging-in-Place remodel or build. A CAPS has been trained to assist in uncovering solutions to barriers in your home. They understand that a maturing population has unique lifestyle requirements. Ideally, this CAPS would also be a licensed remodeler/contractor or be affiliated with one. Here are some steps to follow when getting started with your Aging-in-Place journey: (1) Calculate your budget, whether you plan to remodel, build, or buy; (2) Seek referrals from trusted peers; (3) Verify the remodeler’s references; (4) Look for a professional designation (CAPS); (5) Check with the Better Business Bureau to be sure they are in good standing (6) Ask the remodeler for a written estimate; and (7) Select your remodeler and get started.

Maturing independently in a comfortable and luxurious environment can be your reality. Countless opportunities are available to you to improve your environment whether it is an Aging-in-Place remodel, a purchase, or a new build. With all of the options available in Rochester, Minnesota, you are sure to find the perfect fit for you and your family.


What is the NAHB Designation?

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has created a process for professional remodelers, general contractors, designers, architects and health care consultants to become Certified Aging-In-Place Specialists. Aging-In-Place means remaining in one’s home safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level. The service provided includes on site assessments, universal design, installation of grab bars, widening doorways, bathroom, roll-in showers, kitchen and major remodeling, ramps and anything required to maximize accessibility in the home or office environment. “Aging-in-Place Remodeling” has achieved the NAHB designation. 

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