Aging in Place by Interior Designer Susan Rains Design

What is aging in place?

According to AARP, 90% of older Americans want to stay in their own homes as long as possible as opposed to moving to a nursing home, assisted living facility or in with family.

Aging-in-place is staying in our beloved homes and familiar community as we get older.

It could mean you want to stay in the home you’ve been in for 25 years, you’ve downsized or moved into a 55 plus community. The goal for aging in place is to live on your terms in a home you call your own. Aging in place is a wise way to plan and invest in your future. Especially as longevity increases and we want to increase our chances of remaining in control of our lives.

I've come to realize the term aging in place doesn't resonate with many people. I think it’s a tricky term because we don't necessarily want to think of ourselves as aging and there's no specific time when people officially declare themselves to be old.

Maybe in a joking way but not in our hearts.


When I explain my design specialty, people often jump into “oh, yeah grab bars and ramps.” Those things are part of the mix, but my take on aging in place as an interior designer is a little different than a remodeler who installs ramps.

I take a holistic look at your home and provide suggestions that will lay the best foundation for staying in your home. These foundational home improvements not only offer more ease of living now but stabilizes the working order of your home in the long-term. I evaluate the details of your home like flooring to make standing in your kitchen easier on your legs to window treatments that help you rest, reduce glare and are easy to use.

Everyone age 55 or better, who plans to stay in their home and wants to maintain their lifestyle or even improve their health and wellness, should consider the particular aging in place projects they can layer onto their regular home maintenance. These special projects will help create a home that is more ready for the future and perfect for who you are now.


My friend’s mother has knee and hip problems and frequently becomes unstable on her feet. Her favorite chair in the living room does little to help her stand up. The arms are too short, and there's no space under the chair to give her the leverage she needs to propel herself up. A new chair that fits her body has the proper arm height, seat depth, incline, and space for footing under the chair would make standing up so much more comfortable. Not just more comfortable but also help prevent her from tipping forward too much and taking a spill.

My grandfather had similar problems with his knees, and he used a cane for years. In my eyes, it was his trademark. I was fascinated by the small plaques he attached to it in commemoration of the many state and national parks he had visited. One night he got out of bed to use the bathroom trip, fell, and broke his hip which led to a hip replacement and months of painful recovery. From then on he was afraid of falling. I was a child when this happened, now I look back and wish I had been able to declutter his home and provide the extra lighting he needed to make his way to the bathroom.

If I had a dollar for every time someone broke a bone tripping over something in the dark, I’d be rich.


Unlike other interior designers, I specialize in aging in place design which means that I study and understand the unique needs of the older adult population. Because I am not a healthcare provider I collaborate with occupational therapists and when remodeling expertise is needed I work with the pros. I do what you would expect an interior designer to be good at. For example, create furniture layouts, so the room flows, select tile and fixtures for a kitchen or bath, and help choose paint colors but all with a trained eye on your changing lifestyle now and in the future.

Aging in place design features should be taken into account beginning at age 55 which is a significant and transformative time in our lives. It’s an exciting time of changes that can include shifting priorities, children moving out, changes in our likes, dislikes, needs, and desires. Aging in place design lays the foundation for a home you can enjoy well into the future, but my holistic approach also includes creating a home that celebrates where you are in life now.

For example, you may have an empty nest and find yourself with a spare room that does little else but serves as a shrine to your now adult child. Reclaim your home and give yourself the gift of a place you can really use.

• Dedicated exercise room to encourage healthy habits
• Lovely library to enjoy quiet afternoons of reading and relaxing
• Noise controlled snore room for a quiet sleeping escape
• Cold room for the one who prefers chilly sleeping temperatures

Aging in place is a choice we make because we want to choose how and where we spend our time. 

It’s not a cure for what ails you, but it does enable you to make healthy choices about the types of assistance that are right for you.

Would you like to learn more about aging in place? Read more about it in my articles.