Most of my summer was spent trying to fix-up some needed items around my home and my aging parents home and it brought to mind one of the key design elements in designing for Aging-In-Place: choose low-maintenance finishes and materials.
Adults naturally lose their agility as they age. Maintenance of normal, everyday items becomes more difficult and often gets postponed indefinitely. This results in a cascade of problems. The property can become run-down and in some cases dangerous to the homeowner. An example of this is the exterior of the home. If there is a wood exterior, proper maintenance and upkeep is needed or the paint/wood will deteriorate and become unsightly. This can lead to bugs, leaks, etc. Property value decreases, safety of the homeowner is compromised. An alternative would be to install vinyl siding. Very little maintenance is required.
Consider low maintenance items inside too. Look at the choices for paint finish, decorative elements like sconces, cornices, window frames, appliance finishes, work surface finishes, door hardware, even window types. Factors that should weigh in your design decisions should include ease of use: if you were incapacitated in some way, could you still take care of the home? Could you still use the ____ (appliance, counter, kitchen island, open the window, etc.) if incapacitated in some way? Would you be able to take care of it? Does it require extra maintenance that would require assistance or strenuous upkeep of some kind?
These are just some of the design considerations that should be considered when making changes to or looking at purchasing a home to Age-In-Place. Our society is aging and choices in design need to be made now to accommodate for this large sector of population. If you have any comments or questions, please contact me. Take care and thanks for reading.
If you are interested in attending a presentation on Designing for the Future, I will be presenting at the Society of Decorating Professionals yearly Conference in October and would love to meet you. Information can be found here or check out my website for more information: www.aechurba-design.com.