Our island culture calls for families to care for their elders.

Many choose to honor their kupuna by keeping them at home. Another reason that families decide to keep grandma and grandpa at home is the high cost of senior living facilities.

It can be tricky, however, to keep those with low mobility in an older residence. Many existing homes were built prior to 1970. Narrow halls and doorways, steps into an elevated home, and tubs or sunken shower stalls are commonplace in these antiquated houses. Builders of the past were not focused on the “silver tsunami” that has started to wash over our population.


Graham Builders was Hawaii’s first general contractor to have an on-staff certified aging-in-place specialist, a certification program administered by

the National Association of Home Builders. Today, Graham Builders is proud to have three specialists helping families make necessary changes for the mobility and safety of the elderly residing in their homes.

With nearly three decades of helping of Hawaii families design multigenerational homes, part of Graham Builders’ design process is

to educate its homeowners about the modifications needed to help family members live in place.


“With Hawaii’s population aging so rapidly, it’s important that universal design and accessibility are the starting points of design for all homes,” said Ryan Graham, vice president of operations. “Being young and healthy should not deter

homeowners from considering universal design features for their homes, as this allows for comfort no matter what their health circumstances are. The key words to remember are safety, security, comfort and health.”

Intelligent design features include single-level homes, larger bathrooms with zero-step showers and an open layout that allows easy movement from room to room. Other features include accessible storage, non-slip surfaces, nightlights, space for caregivers and technology for assisted care, such as electrical bandwidth for monitoring machines.

To learn more about designing for all ages, attend the next “Building Your Home for Life” seminar on Saturday, October 5 from 9 to 11 a.m. at Honolulu Country Club. Seminars are free, but reservations are required. To register for a seminar, visit or call 534-7858.