Aging in Place
“Whether looking for a new home or renovating an existing home, we find clients of all ages are taking aging in place into consideration,” says Kate Fulim of Beth Haley Design.
“Babyboomers want to ensure their home renovation investment has longevity and they won’t ‘age out’ of their home, and savy young homeowners know they can increase the rescale value by incorporating elements of universal design into their projects.”
You may already know that Universal Design is the legacy of the late Ron Mace, FAIA, and founder of The Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University. His vision was of a world accessible to everyone regardless of abilities. Using some of the Universal Design principles when building a new home or doing a remodel allows a person to stay in their home longer and also increases the market for the home when it’s time to sell it.
Those who have sprained an ankle and realized how hard it is to get around, or how hard it is to get in and out of the shower, or access a bedroom on the second floor already have an idea how large those challenges can be.
These are all issues addressed by Aging in Place and Universal Design, which affect everyone, not just older adults. “This stay-at-home approach requires planning to accommodatthe physical, mental, and psychological changes that may accompany aging,” says Sara Beth Warne of Aging in Place Transition Services. It involves interior design to make living space more accessible for family members and friends. A little planning will allow you to enjoy your home for many, many more years.
Fulim says, “We find more and more clients concerned with creating a ‘multi-generational home’ that is safe and welcoming to people or all ages. Aging in Place design encompasses everything from ease of entry, open floor plans to increase accessibility, and easy-to-clean surfaces with good traction. We are strong advocates that aging in place is good design and when done right will increase the functionality of the home for the entire family.”
Aging in Place (or long-term livability) is also starting to resonate with Millennials. In Bank of America’s 2016 Homebuyer Insights Reports, 75 percent of first-time buyers said they would rather bypass the starter home and buy a place that will meet their future needs, even if it means they’ll have to wait to save more.
Smart remodeling, including the addition of walk-in showers, comfort-height toilets, and automated lighting systems, will boost a home’s value by allowing the owner to make the aging-in-place pitch when it comes time to sell.
Fulim says, “Homeowners have a hard time picturing themselves aging and when they think about ‘aging in place design,’ they picture industrial, hospital-like design and can’t picture it in their home. As professionals, we know the stigma surrounding aging in place design and work hard to change people’s opinions.”
Some realtors prefer the tag “thriving in place” due to the sometimes negative connotation around “aging in place.”
According to Sara Beth Warne of Aging in Place Transition Services, to “age in place” requires successful planning to accommodate physical, mental, and psychological changes that accompany aging. “These changes are the impetus for planning early to determine the lifestyle and quality of life we choose in our later years,” Warne says.
A recent survey by the American Association of Retired Persons reports that more than 80% of Americans desire to stay in their homes. A home designed for aging in place promotes independence and allows seniors to live a safer and more self-sufficient lifestyle, for as long as possible.
Warne says, “The most effective solutions discourage the fear of being alone, helpless, or a burden to family and friends. The best solutions smooth the unexpected bumps in the road to aging by removing barriers and emphasizing personal comfort and security. Most importantly it speaks to the desires of most Americans to maintain their independence and lifestyle.”
Stansell Dye of Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery notes, “Today’s homeowners want to create a space that’s functional and accessible to all members of the family. Universal design is about finding the balance between short-term desires and long-term needs. And manufacturers are responding to these needs by developing attractive products that blend seamlessly into a room without anyone knowing it was designed with ‘Aging in Place’ in mind.”
Saying that Ferguson recommends products that address homeowners concerns, while fitting within their budget and desired design aesthetic, Dye reports solutions can solve dangerous problems. “For example, the bathroom is one of the most dangerous rooms in the home for the elderly. The combination of wet floors and accessing a tub or shower increases the risk of falling. We may recommend installing wall-mounted grab bars or integrated handrails that coordinate beautifully with bath fixtures and accessories,” says Dye. “A universally-designed bathroom does not need to look sterile in any way or like a handicap bathroom.”
There are a number of sources for aging in place in the Nashville area including:
Aging In Place Transition Services
Beth Haley Design
Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery
Clarksville, 931/ 647-0276
Lebanon, 615/ 444-2111
Murfreesboro, 615/ 890-5599
Nashville, 615/ 385-3054