“Aging In Place Design Can Be Attractive While Functional”

Creating comfortable and enjoyable living spaces, often with simple touches, where people can live independently and confidently for the remainder of their lives is what creating aging in place solutions is all about. 

 

We don’t have to go for boring

Designs that we select for effective long-term living in our own homes or those of our clients don’t need to be boring, but they need to be safe and functional. There is no reason for them to be bland.

For instance, we might think that in order to create ramping or railings or other types of functional support systems that we need to go with a more institutional or commercial look when that it not the case at all. As long as the design suffices for its intended purpose, it is easily understood by all who would approach it, and it is safe to use, we have met our burden of creating a functional design.

We should look for innovative ways to create solutions rather than just use a traditional or less inspiring ways of doing it.

We can be creative

In looking for more creative approaches to implement solutions for our clients, we can literally think outside the box. Just because we have used a solution for another client or we have seen them online or elsewhere, we are not limited. We can be creative. After all, aging in place solutions focus on the client, and no two clients have exactly the same needs or abilities. Additionally, it doesn’t need to be elaborate to be effective.

In looking for something a little different to create and install because that is what the situation calls for or what the client has expressed an interest in having, we may find that we can create a rather inexpensive and simple solution. Maybe keeping the budget small was not a parameter, but many people appreciate a functional solution that is sensitive to their expressed budget, whatever it is.

For instance, we can create furniture, shelving, and lighting for our clients that offer a range of solutions and price points – even repurposing other items that they or we have sitting around. It’s an opportunity to show our creative side, save the clients some money, and have something we can be proud of achieving.

Going beyond the obvious

When we need to create safety items in the home such as more lighting, grab bar supports, cabinet inserts for better access and more effective storage, better and wider accessways, and color contrasts to visually separate competing surfaces or edges, we are not committed to any particular type of solution. It does not have to be something that is typically found in a catalog or online. We may want to use such an approach, but we can be more creative than that when our clients are receptive to it.

In creating solutions for our clients such as adding a grab bar where they request it in their bath or shower area, we can take a step back and ourselves what else we would want if it were our home or what we think they could benefit from as well. Then we can suggest that improvement as well. They are free to accept or reject our recommendation, but this is how we become more creative and a better resource for our clients.

Moving away from tradition

There likely are certain features that someone might expect to see in a home that was outfitted for long-term use. Grad bars in the bath come to mind. However, in providing this solution, we need to evaluate whether our objective is to give the client an outward sign (such as grab bars) that we have addressed their needs (even though we could have done more) or to create a truly functional experience for them. One or two grab bars may provide a measure of safety that they did not have before we got involved with helping them, but their situation may require more than just a cursory response.

In the bath – an area of the home where safety is paramount – grab bars of various sizes and locations are a good place to start, but there are other needs. Also, our grab bar solutions should enhance rather than hamper safety or use, or contribute to tripping or visual confusion concerns. Often grab bars are located too high and too far away from where a client needs to use them for support or to assist them in rising or sitting.

Lighting that illuminates the space without creating hot spots, shadows, unilluminated areas, sheen, or glare is important in all areas of the home,

If we go for function first – asking ourselves what an area needs to be safe and useable by the client – and then design it in a way that is appealing, we will have addressed the major issues. Form indeed follows function, but both are important.

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