If you’re like most people, you’re probably hoping to age in your own home, in familiar surroundings with people you love.

“Most seniors want to live in their own homes for as long as possible, participating in favorite activities and living independently,” says Ryan Graham, vice president of operations at Graham Builders. “Given the high cost of nursing homes, it just makes sense.”


Unfortunately, many island residences, especially those built before 1960, weren’t built to accommodate people with limited mobility and other health issues. For example, Hawaii’s older homes typically have 30-inch bedroom and bathroom doors. Many wheelchairs wouldn’t fit through such a door.

“Modifications and renovations can make older homes safer and improve navigation,” Graham says. “And new houses can be designed to accommodate a graceful, comfortable future for those who want to live at home as long as possible.”


Hiring a design/build firm with an in-house specialist on aging in place can help ensure the best possible outcome.


“When Graham Builders designs or remodels a home, special attention is paid to providing safety and comfort for kupuna,” Graham says. “It’s critical for elders to be able to manage their own personal care.”

As Oahu’s first design/build general contractor to have an aging-in-place specialist, certified by the National Association of Home Builders, on its staff, Graham Builders has developed a range of designs for kupuna. Accommodations include comfort-height toilets and zero-step showers wide enough to hold wheelchairs. Along with wider hallways and doorways, other modifications might include a full accessible bathroom and bedroom on the ground floor of a two-story home.

Between 2006 and 2023, the cost of care in an assisted living facility in Hawaii rose by more than 85%. The median monthly cost for a private room in a nursing home in Hawaii is now $14,972.


“If you plan to age in your home, it makes sense to make safety modifications before you’ll need them,” Graham says. “Design, permitting, construction take time, and costs continue to rise; it’s a good idea to start planning right now.”

Founded in 1990, Graham Builders remains the only local general contractor honored with Better Business Bureau Hawaii’s Torch Award for Small Business Ethics. For more than three decades, Graham Builders has helped Hawaii families design, build, and modify residences to enable kupuna and those with mobility issues to live at home and age in place for as long as possible. The firm’s next free “Building Your Home for Life” seminar is at 9 a.m. on Jan. 6. Register now at grahambuilders.com or call 808-593-2808.

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