“There Is No Typical Person For Aging In Place Design”

A neighborhood may have many similarly looking homes, but aging in place concerns the individuals in those homes and how we approach and accommodate their differences.

While these homes look relatively similar on the outside, our concern for creating effective aging in place design solutions is addressing the different needs and requirements of those inside these dwellings.

 

Everyone is an individual

The first premise of aging in place is that all of us are different with varying needs, requirements, and abilities. Even on an athletic team where everyone is wearing essentially the same uniform, there are differences in personal style, size, and ability, Therefore, while all of us may have similarities, there are apparent differences as well.

In a neighborhood where many of the homes may look uniform in appearance on the outside, the landscaping, personal touches around the outside of the home, and most certainly the way the homes are decorated and used inside are going to vary – sometimes tremendously.

If our goal or aim in working with people as they are aging in place is to find a commonality of design, it is going to be a tall order. Visit the grocery store and look at the number of different brands and types of bread for instance, or beverages, or breakfast items. Many people are going to like the same or similar items as others, but many people are going to have different likes, needs, and preferences.

There are certain universal design features that work well in most settings, but some people may not desire them or have the budget for them, while others may require other more urgent changes to their home.

Forget about appealing to mass markets

Chairs and toilets both are designed to be used from a seated position, and both are prescribed to be at least 17” above the floor for the most accessible use. But what if they are built closer to the floor – lower? Does this make them inherently unusable? Absolutely not. In fact, many people prefer them to be smaller or lower to match their physical size, abilities, or requirements. Conversely, some like them higher because they are taller or have mobility issues with their backs. hips, or legs.

While there is a general standard in sizing, we cannot mandate a certain height from the floor for devices like chairs, beds, and toilets. Some people are comfortable using them at a 17” inch or even more, and many are not. Some desire them to be 19”-20” or more. As we know about aging in place, everyone is different with varying needs so there can be no pronouncement or universal creation of such items unless they are adjustable – and we are starting to a few of them.

We are focused on the individual

Each person, even if they are siblings or spouses, is going to have personal likes and dislikes as well as specific abilities that may mean design differences for accommodating them well.

In short, aging in place is an individual pursuit, person-to-to-person, and there is no standard or typical client.

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