Consider aging needs in main-floor master suites

by Judy Stringer

Not having to scale the stairs daily is a big part of aging in place. Enter: main-floor master suites.

There are some special considerations, however, to create a main-floor suite that will meet your needs as you age, said Brian Pritchard, a real estate executive with training in accessibility modifications.

Doors should be at least 36 inches wide to accommodate wheelchairs or walkers, and keep the flooring in the bedroom consistent with what is outside of the door to eliminate thresholds, which can be a tripping hazard, he said.

In the bathroom, install showers with a barrier-free entry; i.e., no ledge to step over. Falls in the bathroom are one of the leading causes of hospitalization for seniors, according to Pritchard. Adjustable shower heads and pull bars inside and just outside of the shower also help keep bathrooms safer, as do “comfort-height” toilets and grab bars near the toilet.

In addition, use no-slip rugs or secure the rug edges to the floor with doublesided tape, Pritchard said. Consider replacing doorknobs with levers, which are easier for people with arthritis or joint pain to open.

The good news is “it doesn’t all have to happen at once,” Pritchard said. Homeowners can integrate safety measures in bite-size pieces, especially things like grab bars and doorknobs, as the need arises, he said. ∞