Aging in Place - New Jersey

Aging In Place  |  Remaining in Current Residence  |  Modifying the Home
Aging in Place Checklist  |  Support Services

In the past, if someone had difficulty living by themselves, it was a signal that now was time to move to assisted living, in with family, or go to a nursing home. But, for most people, that no longer is the case. Today, you can live on your own for many years, even as you grow older and start needing help with everyday tasks. This is called "aging in place."

The choice of where and how to age in place depends largely on health and support needs. We'll look at how homes can be adapted for aging in place. Let's begin by looking at two aspects of aging in place:

SAFE Plan for Aging in Place

When is a house, or a community, suitable for aging in place and when is it right to consider a move to another home or neighborhood? Remember these four factors:


In the Home

Does the home have elements that present risk, such as dim lighting, steep stairs, no hand rails, clutter, frayed wiring or structural problems?

In the Community

Does the neighborhood seem unsafe?
Are elderly residents afraid to leave their home?
Is the neighborhood declining?


In the Home

Are family and friends close by or far away?
Will an elderly person be isolated and trapped in the home?
Is entry awkward for the home or other areas?
Are cabinets, closets, appliances and storage accessible?

In the Community

Are shopping and services accessible?
Can the resident easily access essential services, for example, grocery store, pharmacy, house of worship, medical services or bank --- without driving?

Fits Needs

In the Home

Does the house still fit the needs of the homeowners?
Can the owners handle the repair and maintenance needs of the house?

In the Community

Does the community provide support for aging in place?
Is the climate tolerable year-round?

Ease of Use

In the Home

Can doors and hallways accommodate a walker or wheelchair?
Can home features be added or modified?

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Remaining in Current Residence

Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities

Not all 50+ communities are planned developments; some happen naturally as long-time residents of a neighborhood age in place. About one in four mature adults live in a naturally occurring retirement communities (NORC). Except for the age of the residents, there are seldom any other defining characteristics. NORCs occur in small towns, suburbs, and rural settings. They can be a community, an apartment building, or a section of a neighborhood and are increasingly common in rural areas where young people migrate to cities for job opportunities.

The U.S. Department of Aging wants to support aging in place and so it provides funding grants to develop services in NORCs.

This is what advocates are trying to do in places like New Jersey, where a bill aimed at fueling aging in place in communities with large percentages of senior citizens was recently approved by the state Senate's Health and Senior Services Committee.

Proponents of the bill said it was designed with the idea of "leveraging existing services" to support seniors who wanted to remain in their own homes, rather than create new ones. It's also envisioned as a big money-saver for Medicare and Medicaid programs, which each year shell out many millions for seniors in continuing care facilities.

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Modifying the Home

Modifying the Home as Needs Change

Universal Design Standards

Universal design is the creation of products and environments that are usable by all people to the greatest extent possible.

Universal design features make it possible for aging homeowners to remain comfortably and safely in the home on an independent basis and for longer time.

Top 10 Home Universal Design Features
High-speed Internet access
Washer and dryer in the home or unit
Storage space
Easy-open windows
Easily usable climate controls
Master bedroom on first floor
Attached garage with door opener
Private patio, front and back porch
Bigger bathroom, on entry level
Grab bars in bathroom

4 Top Services for Aging in Place

Exterior and outdoor maintenance
Home repair services
Health care services

4 Features Consumers Want but Builders Often Don't Build

Non-slip flooring
Large medicine cabinet
Master bedroom on 1st floor
Kitchen cabinets a little lower

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Aging in Place Checklist

Have you ever wanted a quick reference for aging-in-place issues?

Are you wondering how to incorporate some aesthetically pleasing designs into your projects?

If so, the Aging-In-Place Design Checklist might be suited to your needs.

The checklist below contains features you may want to consider for your next new construction or renovation project. They also give you a quick reference for various aging-in-place issues. While these lists are not all-inclusive, they will get you thinking on the right track.


Low-maintenance exterior (vinyl, brick)
Low-maintenance shrubs and plants
Deck, patio, or balcony surfaces are no more than a half inch below interior floor level if made of wood

Overall Floor Plan

Main living on a single story, including full bath
No steps between rooms/areas on the same level
5-foot by 5-foot clear/turn space in living area, kitchen, a bedroom, and a bathroom


Minimum of 36 inches wide, wider preferred
Well lit


Accessible path of travel to the home
At least one no-step entry with a cover
Sensor light at exterior no-step entry focusing on the front-door lock
There needs to be 32 inches of clear width, which requires a 36-inch door
Non-slip flooring in foyer
Entry door sidelight or high/low peep hole viewer; sidelight should provide both privacy and safety
Doorbell in accessible location
Surface to place packages on when opening door


Flush preferable
Exterior maximum of a half inch beveled
Interior maximum of a quarter inch

Interior Doors

There needs to be 32 inches of clear width, which requires a 36-inch door
Levered door hardware


Plenty of windows for natural light
Lowered windows or taller windows with lower sill height
Low maintenance exterior and interior finishes
Easy to operate hardware

Garage or Carport

Covered carports and boarding spaces
Wider than average carports to accommodate lifts on vans
Door heights may need to be nine feet to accommodate some raised roof vans
Five-foot minimum access aisle between accessible van and car in garage
If code requires the floor to be several inches below entrance to house for fume
protection, one can slope entire floor from front to back to eliminate need for ramp or step
Ramp to doorway if needed
Handrail if there are steps


Lever handles or pedal-controlled
Thermostatic or anti-scald controls
Pressure balanced faucet

Kitchen and Laundry

Wall support and provision for adjustable and/or varied height counters and removable base cabinets
Upper wall cabinetry three inches lower than conventional height
Accented stripes on edge of countertops to provide visual orientation to the workspace
Counter space for dish landing adjacent to or opposite all appliances
Base cabinet with roll out trays and lazy susans
Pull-down shelving
Glass-front cabinet doors
Open shelving for easy access to frequently used items


Easy to read controls
Washing machine and dryer raised 12 to 15 inches above floor
Front loading laundry machines
Microwave oven at counter height or in wall
Side-by-side refrigerator/freezer
Side-swing or wall oven
Raised dishwasher with pushbutton controls
Electric cook top with level burners for safety in transferring between the burners, front controls and downdraft feature to pull heat away from user
Light to indicate when surface is hot


30-inch by 48-inch clear space at appliances or 60-inch diameter clear space for turns
Multi-level work areas to accommodate cooks of different heights
Open under-counter seated work areas
Placement of task lighting in appropriate work areas
Loop handles for easy grip and pull
Pull-out spray faucet; levered handles
In multi-story homes, laundry chute or laundry facilities in master bedroom


Wall support and provision for adjustable and/or varied height counters and removable base cabinets
Contrasting color edge border at countertops
At least one wheelchair maneuverable bath on main level with 60-inch turning radius or acceptable T-turn space and 36-inch by 36-inch or 30-inch by 48-inch clear space
Bracing in walls around tub, shower, shower seat, and toilet for installation of grab bars to support 250 - 300 pounds
If stand-up shower is used in main bath, it is curbless and minimum of 36 inches wide
Bathtub - lower for easier access
Fold down seat in the shower
Adjustable/ handheld showerheads, 6-foot hose
Tub/Shower controls offset from center
Shower stall with built-in antibacterial protection
Light in shower stall
Toilet two and a half inches higher than standard toilet (17 to 19 inches) or height-adjustable
Design of the toilet paper holder allows rolls to be changed with one hand
Wall-hung sink with knee space and panel to protect user from pipes
Slip-resistant flooring in bathroom and shower

Stairways, Lifts, and Elevators

Adequate hand rails on both sides of stairway, 1 half-inch diameter
Increased visibility of stairs through contrast strip on top and bottom stairs, color contrast between treads and risers on stairs and use of lighting
Multi-story homes may provide either pre-framed shaft (i.e.. stacked closets) for future elevator, or stairway width must be minimum of 4 feet to allow space for lift
Residential elevator or lift


Slope no greater than one inch rise for each 12 inches in length, adequate handrails
Five-foot landing provided at entrance
Two-inch curbs for safety


Adjustable closet rods and shelves
Lighting in closets
Easy open doors that do not obstruct access

Electrical, Lighting, Safety, and Security

Light switches by each entrance to halls and rooms
Light receptacles with at least two bulbs in vital places (exits, bathroom)
Light switches, thermostats, and other environmental controls placed in accessible locations no higher than 48 inches from floor
Electrical outlets 15 inches on center from floor; may need to be closer than 12 feet apart
Clear access space of 30 inches by 48 inches in front of switches and controls
Rocker or touch light switches
Audible and visual strobe light system to indicate when the doorbell, telephone or smoke or CO2 detectors have been activated
High-tech security/intercom system that can be monitored, with the heating, air conditioning, and lighting, from any TV in the house
Easy-to-see and read thermostats
Pre-programmed thermostats
Flashing porch light or 911 switch
Direct wired to police, fire, and EMS (as option)
Home wired for security
Home wired for computers


Smooth, non-glare, slip-resistant surfaces, interior and exterior
If carpeted, use low (less than half an inch high pile) density, with firm pad
Color/texture contrast to indicate change in surface levels

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning

HVAC should be designed so filters are easily accessible
Energy-efficient units
Windows that can be opened for cross ventilation, fresh air

Energy-Efficient Features

In-line framing with two by six studs spaced 24-inch on center
Air-barrier installation and sealing of duct work with mastic
Reduced-size air conditioning units with gas furnaces
Mechanical fresh air ventilation, installation of air returns in all bedrooms and use of carbon monoxide detectors
Installation of energy efficient windows with Low-E glass

Reduced Maintenance/Convenience Features

Easy to clean surfaces
Central vacuum
Built-in pet feeding system
Built-in recycling system
Video phones
Intercom system

Other Ideas

Separate apartment for rental income or future caregiver
Flex room that can be used as a nursery or playroom when the children are young and as a home office later; if combined with a full bath, room could also be used for an aging parent/aging in place.

Source: Home Innovation Research Labs at ToolBase.org

Support Services

To help you plan properly, we invite you to utilize the senior support networks below:

New Jersey Aging & Disability Resource Connection  http://adrcnj.org/

AARP Aging in Place - http://ageinplace.com/tag/aarp

Eldercare Locator - www.eldercare.gov

National Council on Aging (NCOA) - www.ncoa.org

The National Aging In Place Council.   http://www.ageinplace.org/

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Administration on Aging - www.aoa.gov

Aging in Place Initiative - www.aginginplaceinitiative.org

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Dolores Armada
Preferred Properties
401 Spier Avenue
Allenhurst, NJ 07711
Office: (732) 531-5900
Direct: (732) 397-5044

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Aberdeen, New Jersey

Dolores Armada and Preferred Properties Real Estate provide offerings on this web site subject to errors, omissions and prior sale. Material facts should be reviewed by the Buyer. Broker makes no representation of the information provided herein.