Planning and designing the age-appropriate home

A home is accessible and for the most part barrier-free when:

  • It can be accessed without steps and thresholds, and entered unimpeded by people with impaired mobility
  • It has a level-access shower or otherwise safe, needs-based bathroom design
  • The doors are at least 80 cm wide and the bathroom, hall and kitchen allow space (at least 120 cm x 120 centimeter) to move freely, even with a wheelchair
  • It is well equipped and the lighting is good
  • It has grip handles as well as sitting and standing aids to provide help if mobility is impaired

The DIN 18040 standard gives precise definitions of accessibility for all areas of the home, for publicly accessible buildings and for public spaces and roads. New buildings should now be planned in such a way that they comply with this standard. For existing houses and flats, the minimum specifications contained in the KfW “Age-Appropriate Conversion” programme offer points of reference and also ideas on the kinds of things that can be done at reasonable expense.

Useful tips on accessible home design

There are a number of practical measures you can introduce in your home without any major effort.
Go through your daily routine in your head and think about the obstacles that you encounter in your home in the course of a normal day and list the things that cause you problems.
Many of the obstacles found in your home can be eliminated quickly and cheaply, either with a little skill or with the help of a qualified tradesperson or firm.

Things you can do yourself

  • Part with superfluous furniture and furnishings, and reorganise your rooms.
  • Move furniture around sothat all furniture, furnishings and windows are easily accessible.
  • Make sure floor coverings are non-slip and fix rugs in place to eliminate the risk of slips, trips and falls.
  • Keep a stable seat at hand for getting your shoes on and off.
  • A non-slip shower stool to sit on makes it easier to shower without help and reduces the accident risk.

Where you will need help from relatives, friends, neighbours or professionals

  • Fit wooden blocks under the sofa, armchair or bed to raise them to a seat height of at least 60 centimeter – this makes it easier to sit down and get up.
  • Fit handrails on both sides of the stairs.
  • Grip handles make it easier to sit down and get up in the bath, and offer extra safety on the toilet.
  • Replace conventional shelves in wall cupboards with glass shelves so you can see what’s on the upper shelves.

Where you will need professional help

  • To facilitate housework such as vacuuming, move frequently used power points to an easy-to-reach height of at least 85 centimeter.
  • If the available space allows, part of the kitchen worktop can be lowered, and legroom can be created by removing the bottom cupboards. In that way, you can even sit down to cook.