Moderation as the guiding principle
Ben Franklin used to talk about the importance of moderation. Whether he specifically said “moderation in all things” or not, this was at the core of his published statement on moderation as a human virtue.
How does moderation translate into what we want to do as aging in place professionals or what we want to recommend to our clients? It means that simple, inexpensive solutions often are the best. Sure, gorgeous applications of design features in a space are appreciated, but who says that to achieve this look need to be expensive? There are many ways to achieve comparable results at various price points.
Moderation for us (and for our clients) means to hold the line on grander or more extensive solutions when a more budget-friendly, easier, quicker to complete, and an attractive, functional solution can be created.
Textbook versus real-world
There are many classic design applications that we can create and employ for our clients that we can find in textbooks and other reference documents. These offer some great ideas and will work when the solution is what is called for in that particular situation.
However, few things that we work with are ever that precise – people have varying abilities, budgets, needs, and interior spaces. What works well for one client may not for another – for any number of reasons.
We need to resolute, flexible, and adaptive. Effective aging in place solutions are those that pair the client’s needs with their living space and budget. That said, there may be several ways of approaching an issue and creating an effective solution.
The important thing to remember is that we don’t have to research a compendium of solutions to find the exact one that we want to use. We examine the living space in front of us, take into account the client’s abilities and needs, apply a budgetary parameter, and create a solution – one that may be similar in many respects to something we have used previously, or something original that we thought of for the first time.
As easy as it is to want to provide a range of solutions for our clients – because we know how to do so and know that they would benefit from them – we have to maintain focus and moderation. The client may not need everything we can do for them, because their needs are rather urgent and require a very quick, timely response, or their budget is quite limited. Otherwise, we might like to provide more options and solutions for them.
Rather than go “all-in” on an extensive solution for our clients when we both know (they and us) that it would be nice to do, time is of the essence and a more limited budget applies. Therefore, we will defer to a more moderate approach and address the most urgent needs now – and in a way that is kind to their budget even though there are more expensive and extensive ways of creating a similar solution and completed look.
Function as well as appearance
Given a choice, most people would likely choose a solution that was pretty and attractive. However, given that same choice, function would likely win. In other words, people want an effective solution, If we can make it look nice for a reasonable amount of investment, so much the better, but the outcome is key. It must address and solve a client’s issue. Appearance is less important, but we don’t have to skimp on design or ignore it entirely just to make an effective solution.
Take the classic apartment or dormitory fix for storage space. Creating shelves is easy with some bricks, blocks, or similar solid materials with boards stretched across them. This can be a single shelf or one of two, three, or even more courses. Similarly, a sheet of plywood or a door stretched across supports of some kind, such as sawhorses, makes a great desk or table. A wooden cable spool can make a patio table.
The key thing to remember is that we can be creative and honor or appreciate a client’s budgetary desires while appealing to their physical needs at the same time. They are not mutually exclusive. We can spend more on certain solutions, and our clients may desire it, but when a low-budget solution is required, we should have the know-how, ingenuity, and creativity to make it happen.
Many seniors are going to have small budgets and may feel that they need to forego any consideration of having safety or convenience improvements in their homes. This simply is not true. We can be quite effective for them with a little creativity on our part.