GOOD DESIGN SUPPORTS ACTIVE AGING
Today’s clients who are in their 50s and 60s do not see themselves as “old”. Neither do I, but as a professional interior designer in Bergen County, NJ, I have to include planning for their future, even if they are not fully aware of that.
Aging happens to all of us, every day.
We all want to continue to live life to the fullest. I call it “actively aging.” A 50 year old now is considered a “senior” and gets those wonderful discounts on everything. [AARP]
But this group is very savvy and independent.
Design helps them stay that way.
#1. How does design help people to stay healthy and independent longer?
First comes housing.
With proper planning, the quality of your life and wellness increases. Living in an area that takes connectivity into account, locating near transportation, amenities and social service systems is becoming more important.
Baby boomers are a very large segment of the population with huge numbers of people retiring every year. This is an explosion of people who look to renovate or move to a better kind of housing for the future. It is sometimes called the Age Wave! I like that description!
Did you know that there is senior housing available on many college campuses? This adds cultural and lifestyle services to the seniors while adding diversity to the college towns.
Second is technology,
Smart appliances and devices allow people to stay in their homes as long as possible at the high levels of quality they expect.
Imagine in the middle of the night, the toilet is lit up to show you the way, the lid comes up as you approach, goes down and flushes when you are done.
Yes, it is available now.
Sensor faucets don’t even need handles. Great news for kids/grandkids who may not be able to reach back so far or for those who might be in a wheel chair.
Lighting is super important, since as the eye ages it loses some depth perception. Glare and bright contrasts are problematic.
Today we have smart systems that create the right amount of light for the functions we want at the touch of a button or voice command.
Third is Universal Design.
We often think of this as Barrier Free Design. But it is not only for seniors.
Everyone in a household benefits when we design elements using products that are usable and appealing to everyone regardless of age, ability or circumstance.
Types of sink hardware, doors and cabinets, electrical outlets and switch plates should get an evaluation to make sure they are reachable and easy to operate.
Open plans with continuous flooring heights allow a person in a wheel chair to move around smoothly and freely, but it is also great for kids on their little personal car toys!
A well designed home that is wheel chair accessible has wider doorways and hallways. It doesn’t have steps, or look institutional–just great.
Even younger people can suffer some disability in their lifetime. A broken arm or leg happens to someone in the family more often than not. Living in a home set up to make it easier to get through is a plus.
Even if you are not ready to do this for yourself now, some of us are dealing with aging parents to care for, so this is a timely subject for all of us.
Get out there and enjoy your life!
If you need help figuring it out and want to make some changes now to benefit yourself and others in your family, give us a call to evaluate it for you!