Rules give us substance
Like it or not, because sometimes they get in the way or are a little cumbersome for what we want to do or accomplish, rules are helpful – especially ones that are written. They give us guidelines as well as boundaries. They define how we are supposed to behave in certain situations – whether we are playing a game, driving a car, or shopping in public. When we are learning to play a new sport or trying to master a software app, we study the rules to find out how we should perform.
Rules are enforceable and must be followed.
Some people like to make up their own rules as they go along, but they likely would find that their ideas are rooted in more deeply defined concepts – if they were to look for them.
Rules make living a little more dependable. We have a better idea of what to expect. We know that people generally obey traffic rules. We can depend on gravity. We know what happens when we don’t pay a bill when it is due. We respect doors in public that are locked without trying to enter them anyway.
Rules for aging in place
So, with our socialization of rule awareness and the consequences of not obeying or adhering to various rules, we often look for rules to guide our actions even when none exist. We want a foundation to follow. Such is the case with aging in place design or solutions. There are no rules. There are no ordinances (except sometimes when there is construction involved and only for the way something is built rather than the concept).
Many of us would like for there to be a rule about how wide a doorway needs to be (notwithstanding guidelines which are not the same as rules), the type of door handle to use, the type of light switches or cabinet pulls to use, the amount and styles of lights to use, the type of flooring, and the list goes on.
We have ideas for how we would like to see things done, and the client may have differing ideas. Universal design concepts, while generally are not covered by rules or ordinances, are fantastic guidelines.
Aging in place is client-defined
While we like the idea of being able to have a definitive source of information that tells us what is and what is not allowed in creating effective aging in place designs, the fact is that our clients dictate what they want and need. Then it is up to us to create it for them in the best, most appropriate way that we can.
Aging in place renovations, even with universal design or trying to employ the recommendations of ADA guidelines, are individual, one client at a time. No two projects will necessarily be identical because everyone’s needs, preferences, and budgets will vary.