Certified Aging In Place Specialist Series

Successful aging in place often means home remodeling plans or universal design house plans when building a new home. It is a good idea to plan for successful aging when you build your first home whether you are twenty, thirty, forty, the younger the better.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist Series
Aging in place Universal Design

Meet Jonathan Greaves

Interview with Diane Carbo and Jonathan Greaves

Diane: Jon, my goal is to help aging individuals make their home their partner as they age. Can you tell me when is a good time to begin to make changes in the home?

Jon Any time is a good time. It will depend on the client’s personal needs both current and future. Now is a great time to remodel. Prices are low and jobs are completed much faster.

Diane: What are the first steps an individual that wants to remain in their home consider taking ... to prepare for aging in place?

Jon: The first step is to completely assess the client and the client’s home.

You want to identify the:

  • Needs of the client
  • Physical limitations
  • Range of motion both current and future needs
  • And how the client uses the home.

Then you need to look at the condition of the home, from layout to possible structural issues.

The goal is to allow the client to... live safely, comfortably and independently. In there own home as they progress in their lives.

Diane: Can you make some inexpensive recommendations? One that may be helpful to any aging senior now?

Jon: Consider installing offset door hinges. They allow the door to open farther against the wall for better access.

  • Lever doorknobs allow opening easier.
  • Low profile thresholds, easier entry access.
  • Grab bars for fall prevention
  • Better lighting, to increase visibility in rooms.
  • Contrasting paint colors, to increase visibility.

These are just a few suggestions. Diane: Most aging seniors live on a fixed income. Are there any green modifications that would help... to lower heating, air conditioning costs and water usage in the future?

Jon: Green is a term that is misunderstood. Be aware of Green washing products that claim to be green. Green is mostly about energy efficiency; water conversation: and reducing your carbon foot print.

Here are a few examples: For energy efficiency:

  • Change light bulbs to compact fluorescent or LED,
  • Install high efficiency HVAC system
  • Install high efficiency windows and doors.

Complete a home energy audit. This is to identify your homes weaknesses.

  • For Water conservation:
  • Install low flow or dual flush toilets
  • Low flow faucets and shower heads
  • Install hot water recirculation pump
  • Tank less water heaters.

Consider, harvesting your rain for irrigation.

There are many new green products that can be used such as:

Flooring tiles and bamboo

No VOC paints (containing volatile organic compounds)

High post consumer contents countertops. Such as glass and concrete, to name a few.


What are the most important factors an aging senior should consider... when planning to age in place?

Jon: A Certified Aging in Place Specialist ( CAPS)  professional wants ... to maintain or increase the client’s quality of life. We work to promote independence, comfort, ease of motion and accessibility in the home.

We also help to increase the energy efficiency of the home, at the same time.

Diane: Falls are the number one independence robber for aging seniors. The bathroom is where most of these falls occur. What recommendations can you make to make a bathroom safe for the aging senior?

Jon: Bathrooms are the biggest area second to entryways to the home.

The bathroom is where, I recommend:

  • Non skid floorings
  • Barrier free showers
  • Roll up vanities
  • Increased lighting
  • And grab bars in all needed areas

Diane: I always feel that for every problem there is a solution. Does this apply to making changes in the home using Universal design principles?

Jon: Remodelers are problem solvers by nature. A CAPS certified Remodeler is motivated by the Universal Design principles. These are to achieve the client’s goal of aging gracefully in their home.

Diane: Can you share with me your favorite new product... or any new products that would benefit the readers in the future?

Jon: I have no real favorite. As awareness increases so do the new products for Universal Design. More manufacturers are stepping up, now that they see the market share... in CAPS renovations.

But if I had to pick 2 it would be the :

  • Offset hinge (what a simple concept)
  • Hot water recirculation pump (minimal wait time for hot water).

Diane: Can you make some suggestions to overcome the physical barriers in a home? To assure a continued quality of life as they age?

Jon: My suggestions would be to:

Install entry ramps no more that ½ rise in 12 run,

Low profile thresholds, ½ max height

Widen all doorways or install offset hinges.

Create barrier free bathrooms.

Look at new accessible kitchen designs. There is so much you can do to your kitchen.

Increase interior and exterior lighting of your home.


Can you share stories?  Or photos of utilizing universal design in an established home ?  One that assisted your client…  to remain in their present home environment?

Jon: Yes, I have 3 stories that I will share with you. I had a client that made the decision to move her mom into their home. The first floor had a master area that was recreated to accommodate mom.

The bath was recreated to be barrier free. We used off set hinges on the doors because they could not be widened. And the closet was recreated for ease of use.

Aunt Kay... 20 years ago I was contracted by my aunt to make her home barrier free because she is confined to a wheel chair.

A two story addition was built with a garage and 2nd story bedroom suite (for a future care taker). The garage was built at the same floor level as the house. The garage door was widened and lever lockset attached along with opener and self closer.

The old garage was remodeled and transformed into her new kitchen. The cabinets had pull down uppers, a roll under sink and cook top.

We installed a raised dishwasher and a lower microwave, as well as side-by-side refrigerator. All doorways in the house were widened. Lever locksets were installed. As well as extra lighting.

A ramp was built outside the sliding glass door to the pool deck. With the help of her husband, we built a boat davit lift system with control so she could gain access to the pool.

She can drive into her garage and have complete use of her home in her wheelchair.

This next one is not about aging in place, but about current needs caused by trauma

Chris C This young man was shot in the neck during a home invasion and paralyzed. We renovated his bedroom hallway and bathroom to be barrier free.

The hall way was already 42 wide. Offset hinges were installed. A 36 pocket door was installed from the bedroom to the bath.

The bath was completely gutted and rebuilt with roll in shower and roll up vanity. Shower valve, switches, shampoo shelf, shower hand held were all install at a lower height. A tilt able mirror above the vanity allows anyone to use it. A second conventional shower head was installed for the same reason.

Have a story about your caregiving journey? Please share here? Help others realize that they are not alone. Submit Your Caregiver Story


           Meet our other certified aging in place specialists

             Jaimie Goldberg

              Mike Shina

             Scott Anderson

              David Foley