AARP HomeFit

The Room-by-Room HomeFit Tour

Now it's time to learn about the design elements and safety features that help make a home livable for everyone

The AARP "My Room-by-Room HomeFit List" Worksheet

Now it’s time to take the tour (albeit it an imaginary one) for a room-by-room lesson about the design elements and safety features that help make a home livable for people of all ages.

The concepts discussed here are often referred to as Universal Design. Before we get started, you may want to download the worksheet "My Room-by-Room HomeFit List" so you can jot down notes and ideas for your home.

A Message for Renters: Many of these suggestions are doable even if you don’t own the house or apartment where you live. For changes that will require some remodeling or installation work, you may need to seek permission from the property owner.


In a "HomeFit" home …

  • The address number is visible from the street so emergency responders can locate the home

  • Exterior pathways are free of holes, loose bricks, uneven pavement, leaves or other slipping hazards

  • Entrances (inside and out) are free of clutter
  • There is a no-trip doorway threshold

  • There are handrails on both sides of all steps and stairways

  • Doorways are at least 36" wide, or made that wide by installing swing-away or swing-clear hinges to make use of the entire doorway opening

  • There is exterior lighting at all entrances

  • Outdoor light fixtures have sensors to automatically turn lights on at dusk and off at dawn and/or when motion is detected

  • The entrance door has a peephole, viewing panel or security technology for seeing who is outside

  • The entrance door has a secure slide latch or chain inside so you can speak to someone outside without fully unlocking and opening the door

  • Doors have lever-style handles, which are easier to use than doorknobs

  • There’s a bench or table near the entrance door for placing packages while locking or unlocking the door


In a "HomeFit" home …

  • The cabinetry is easy to access

  • There’s pull-out cabinetry or shelves beneath counters and Lazy Susans in corner cabinets

  • There’s suitable task lighting for the sink, stove and other work areas

  • The kitchen has a lever-, touch- or sensor-style faucet rather than one with turn-style knobs or handles

  • The sink faucet is pressure-balanced, temperature-regulated and kept at or below 120°F

  • The cabinets and drawers have easy-to-grasp D-shaped pulls and handles rather than knobs

  • The floor is not polished with a slippery wax

  • The stove or cooktop controls are near the front of the device so the cook doesn’t need to reach over the flame or hot pots. (For the safety of small children who may visit the home, look for controls that can be temporarily locked or removed.)

  • The controls for the stovetop are easy to see (by being colored, backlit, etc.)

  • The kitchen has a surface where a person can work while seated. (This can be achieved by using a table, installing a pull-out work surface or, sometimes, by removing lower cabinet doors and shelves.)


In a "HomeFit" home …

  • Safe and secure handrails are on both sides of stairs and are placed at a user-appropriate height and properly secured to the walls

  • Stairway lights can be turned on and off at both the top and bottom of the stairs

  • Exterior and interior stair treads are in good condition with no weak or missing steps, loose bricks, raised nail heads, open backs, etc.

  • Uncarpeted steps feature a nonslip surface such as adhesive strips

  • All stairs are clear of clutter

  • Carpeted steps feature a tightly placed, woven low-pile carpet with thin padding. (If the carpet is patterned, the pattern isn’t so busy that it makes the steps difficult to see.)

  • Automatic night-lights are plugged into outlets near steps and staircases

Next page: Bed, bath and beyond. »

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