Will Your Current Home Allow You to Age in Place?

image of two hands, palms up, holding the outline of a home, with text that reads "Remodeling for Aging in Place"

An age-friendly home is an important goal for many older Seattle and King County residents. Unfortunately, with our steep terrain, historic building practices, and current vertical living trends, many homes lack the age-friendly features that are important for aging in place.

Level entries, wider hallways, and a main-floor bathroom that can accommodate a wheelchair are some of the features that make a home “visitable.” Visitability means the home may be accessed and used by people of varying ages and abilities, whether the homeowner requires the features or not. If your home is not visitable, there may be remodeling options that can help.

On November 7, the Northwest Universal Design Council will host a forum on “Remodeling for Aging in Place.” Featured presenters—Realtor Tom Minty (John L. Scott), remodeler Paul Kocharhook (Pathway Design & Construction), and occupational therapist Gerry Cherney (Indeboom, LLC)— will provide three perspectives on this important topic. Come to the forum to learn what issues you should consider and what steps you can take to make sure the home you grow old in is both comfortable and safe.

Click on the image above to open the event flyer.

As Paul Kocharhook, one of the featured speakers at the upcoming forum, explained, “Universal Design principles and aging-in-place best practices provide nearly limitless options to a better quality of life for homeowners, their loved ones … and even their guests. Remodeling with these aesthetics in mind really opens up the feel and flow of a home for all who enter it.”

Even if you don’t want to think about the age-friendliness of your own home, planning ahead can save you money in the long run. Mr. Kocharhook, who is a National Association of Homebuilders Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist, told the story of one older couple who went through the devastation of a house fire. When their house was being rebuilt, they refused to consider age-friendly features. Just a couple of months later, the remodelers were back on site to add a few minor accommodations, such as grab bars, for about $20,000 more than what it would have cost them to be added during the rebuild.

The Northwest Universal Design Council forum is on Wednesday, November 7, 2018 from 9:30–11:30 a.m. in the Bertha Knight Landes Room at Seattle City Hall (600 4th Avenue, Seattle). The room is near the 5th Avenue entrance.

The forum is free and open to the public; however, pre-registration is requested so that ample seating and coffee/tea/water will be available. RSVP at

Contributor Jon Morrison Winters is the lead planner on housing issues for Aging and Disability Services, the Area Agency on Aging for Seattle-King County. He staffs the Northwest Universal Design Council. Jon can be reached at or 206-684-0654.

To read presenter Paul Kocharhook’s article, “Is ‘visitability’ included in your home remodel goals?” (Seattle Times, 9/20/2018), click here.

This article originally appeared in the November 2018 issue of AgeWise King County.