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Aging in Place Remodeling #2

by Louis on June 15, 2009

Since Aging in Place remodeling is pro-active – planning for an unknown future – the goals are not triggered by immediate needs like other remodeling projects. How do you decide when your project will do what you need it to do?

Performance Standard #1. Of course you want it to be attractive.

Performance Standard #2. It is should follow the Principles of Universal Design. Some people think that means attractive but Universal Design is about performance not beauty. Universal Design means functionality is not tied to specific abilities or health issues. Universal Design has been used to inform us that it does not have to be unattractive and institutional looking to be smart design.

Here are a couple of Universal Design definitions:
a. Design of products and buildings so they are useful to the largest number of people without special adaptation.
b. The process of embedding Choice for all people into the things we design.

Here are a couple of Universal Design examples:
1. closed captioning on TV is useful for everyone but was conceived for those with hearing difficulties
2. no step entries and curb cuts are useful for bicycles, strollers and suitcases but were conceived for those using wheeled mobility devices
3. the grabber advertised for easy reaching on late night TV is useful for everyone but was conceived as a reacher for those with reach range and balance problems

A bathroom that has no steps, curbs or bumps and a place where you can sit to use the sink, reduces risk of falling, provides for ergonomic and safe caregiving AND is attractive has unlimited uses for everyone. A wheelchair can be used in the room but the room provides great value even if a wheelchair never enters the room.

Performance Standard #3. You should be able to get out to an early doctor appointment on a bad day when you have the flu. Think of the day after you have come home from knee surgery. Or think an older, frailer, arthritic YOU.

If you have that possibility covered in attractive, life affirming, comforting space you have done a great job. The chance of you being forced from your home in a health crisis is severely minimized. Congratulations!!

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