Recently I received the accreditation as a Certified Aging-In Place Specialist. So what is Aging-In Place anyhow? From this day forward I will begin to give you insight to this phenomena, and every growing trend. This is not about institutional, handicap applications (aka ADA) .. this is about real living, and growing. For more related posts, click on the Universal Design menu option to the left … and check back (or better yet, subscribe to RSS feeds!) for future updates.
Aging in Place is a Choice
Aging in place refers to the act of living in your home as you age, for as long as you are able. There are many factors which can affect your ability to do so, including (but not limited to) physical abilities, environment, support (family or community), comfort, health care and finances. The amount of time you can live safely in your home can be extended by providing solutions to deal with the most common issues you may face as you grow older.
Why is it Important?
We’re all going to age. The situation the United States, Australia and parts of Europe find are now becoming acutely aware of is that it is going to happen to a lot of people at one time. The Baby Boomer generation is really, really big and are not the only people their aging will affect; it is going to have an impact on our society as a whole. For a little insight, think about this: In 2020, our 60+ population will go from 43.8 million to 73.7 million.
In a nutshell, we not only need to make sure we are living the best, most comfortable life we can as we age, but also that we do what we are able to reduce the stress it could place on our families and those in our community.
Your Aging in Place Plan
You’ve probably heard the saying, “We don’t plan to fail, we fail to plan.” Well, it’s especially true in this case. Having a plan (and following it) means you have prepared yourself, and your household, to deal with the issues you are going to face as you age. There are many resources available to you to assist with developing a solid plan, from Certified Aging in Place Specialists, to financial planning worksheets, to long-term, multi-faceted care arrangements. These and other resources can be brought in to play to assist you in creating a detailed, holistic approach to your aging in place initiative.
The focus of your plan should be control; control of your environment, your care, your dignity, your comfort and your quality of life. Creating a plan that enables you to stay in your personal space and supports your security and independence should be your primary goal.
How about Universal Design?
Per Wikipedia: Universal design refers to a broad-spectrum solution that produces buildings, products and environments that are usable and effective for everyone, not just people with disabilities.
It emerged from “barrier-free” or “accessible design” and “assistive technology” and recognizes the importance of how things look. For example, while built up handles are a way to make utensils more usable for people with gripping limitations, some companies introduced larger, easy to grip and attractive handles as feature of mass produced utensils. They appeal to a wide range of consumers.
As life expectancy rises and modern medicine has increased the survival rate of those with significant injuries, illnesses and birth defects, there is a growing interest in universal design. There are many industries in which universal design is having strong market penetration but there are many others in which it has not yet been adopted to any great extent.
Universal design is a part of everyday living and is all around us. Curb cuts or sidewalk ramps, essential for people in wheelchairs but used by all, are a common example. The “undo” command in most software products is a good example. Color-contrast dish ware with steep sides that assist those with visual problems as well as those with dexterity problems are another. Additional examples include cabinets with pull-out shelves, kitchen counters at several heights to accommodate different tasks and postures and low-floor buses that kneel and are equipped with ramps rather than lifts.
So reality is, good design is not just about beauty and function for today. Think about tomorrow.. the foreseen, and the unforeseen changes that you may be dealt. I am an avid believer that form follows function, and with the innovative products on the market today, your project can be beautiful and functional in more aspects than ever before!