Aging-In-Place Design enables people to have their homes be pre-user friendly before they would be forced to remodel due to illness, handicap, or condition that would require them to leave their home and have to go into a healthcare facility. By thinking about this ahead of time and implementing certain design/remodeling changes one can extend the usefulness and enjoyment of living at home.
As I am sure most of you are aware, the US population is comprised of a large portion of Baby Boomers (people over the age of 55). I am one of those persons, so I can write this article with some firsthand experience. My generation is significantly different from previous generations in that our professional desires, general health, life span, and overall view of what retirement is, has a different mindset than my parents had. I intend to work well into my 70’s or even perhaps 80’s. Retirement to me means just cutting down a few hours in my work day. I love my work and really have no plans to formally retire.
So why should I be concerned with Aging-In-Place Design? The reason is quite simple. Just as I have provided for my financial retirement, it is just as important to plan for my aging retirement. I want to remain in my home throughout my senior life, and the only reason I intend to leave my home would be because I have stopped breathing.
What steps have I taken to assure my Aging-In-Place retirement goals are met? This is where Aging-in-Place Design comes in. As an Architect and Contractor, I have been able to design and remodel my home to a Universal Design standard. This Universal Design standard refers to the design of spaces and elements in a home that can be usable by all people whether handicapped or not. In other words, if I become disabled, but my wife is not, the design elements of my house can still be used by the two of us. Some of the Aging-In-Place Contractor/Universal Design elements I have incorporated are:
- Making sure that I have an accessible way to access my home in the event I become disabled.
- Making sure that doors have a significant opening to allow a wheelchair or motorized cart to get through.
- Eliminating sharp turning areas to allow for free flow of a wheelchair or motorized vehicle throughout the entire house.
- Making my bathroom accessible using Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements as a guide.
- Having a portion of my kitchen area that is usable from a wheelchair.
Do I need any of this now? No. Is this a smart way to address this problem now rather than in crisis mode when I do need it? Absolutely. As an Architect/Contractor and one who has designed and created many Aging-In-Place projects, I can tell you this is stuff worth looking into. I have been specializing in this type of design for virtually my entire professional life. As a Architect/Contractor specialist, I can tell you that this type of service is more important now than ever before for the Baby Boomer generation. I have had many a client that had no idea or intention of addressing this issue when they were thinking about remodeling their home. Once I explained the future benefits to them and to their loved ones, the elements that could turn a basic remodeling project into an Aging-In-Place project became an easy sell.
Let’s face it, no one really likes to think of themselves as needing Aging-In-Place design or Universal Design. But the clear fact is everyone will eventually need it and those who plan ahead will be the ones that will benefit the most. Baby Boomers will need it much sooner than later and those that are smart enough to plan ahead for Aging-In-Place Design now will reap the benefits later.
If you are thinking about some remodeling to your existing home, please take the time to consider what I have said. As a specialist in this design field and as a Contractor, I am always available to consult on your particular circumstances. Please feel free to contact me, although don’t wait too long.