The Baby Boomers are retiring. Therefore, the residential industry, as well as other industries, is shifting focus to that of the aging population and how to house them to maintain an obtained lifestyle. Articles are appearing almost daily about healthcare and the diminishing length of stays in hospitals, how sunny interiors help with recovery and patient moods, and the rising costs which threaten retirement nest eggs. Other articles are focused on Universal Design which is providing accessibility for elderly as well as disabled people. Manufacturers that have products compliant with ADA guidelines are now looking at the aging market place to update and redesign these fixtures to be more appealing.
We are witnessing a convergence of several issues driving change in the marketplace creating a “perfect storm” scenario for better designed spaces for everyone regardless of physical limitations. Being aware of these changes and embracing them is challenging but necessary to provide clients with the knowledge base to design their lifetime homes. We at Jones Pierce strive to maintain this knowledge to be a resource for our clients and their personal and future needs.
Designing for Aging in Place
Universal design is about accessibility. Homes of the future need to be about flexibility; people change as they grow and so should their homes. Houses being able to easily adapt to the changing needs of the occupants as they continue through life can be achieved through proper planning.
One easy example is the premise to start thinking forward in life when planning a new home. Things to consider are limitations of the elderly and disabled. If the plan is fairly open with contiguous living spaces, it allows freedom of movement whether in a wheelchair, a scooter, or on foot. Planning doors that are 36 inches wide is another easy attribute to include early in the design process but harder to change once built. The same holds true for the layout of kitchens and bathrooms. A little forethought goes along way when needs may arise later for the use of walkers and wheelchairs to navigate a home.
Showers with doors, as opposed to tubs, are easier to get in and out of.
Benches in showers benefit those who cannot stand for long periods of time.
Today, we see many retirement homes in areas with relatively steep grades that require multiple level solutions. It is easy to plan for a future elevator and provide the required structural support for the shaft with a temporary intermediate floor that can be removed. The present benefit being a spacious closet that later converts to the elevator. These simple planning features allow homes to be enjoyed longer for their owners. As healthcare costs increase, many see more solutions for in home care. Therefore, it will be important for these homes to adapt. Jones Pierce wants to help our clients plan for their lifetime.
Continue reading part 2 of the topic, Aging in Place: The Case for Technology
To learn more about Universal Design, read more on our 3rd Principle: Lifetime Homes – Plan for living in your home forever.
Cooper Pierce, Principal Jones Pierce Inc. An Atlanta based Architectural firm specializing in custom home transformations and custom retirement homes in fun places. email@example.com
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