Designing Homes for Aging in Place
Baby boomers are turning 65 at the rate of 100,000 per day. And this generation - who make up the majority of the US population - are more determined than ever to stay at home and age in place. It is stipulated that nearly 90% of homeowners approaching retirement want to stay in their homes as they age, according to AARP. Indeed, the “aging-in-place” movement is upon us, and it is huge. There’s even a council dedicated to the cause.
What is aging in place?
“Aging in place has become an increasingly familiar term in the U.S., although no one seems to know its origin,” said NAIPC Executive Director Marty Bell. While Bell said most people think it means staying in a private home rather than moving to an institutional facility like a hospital or nursing home, it actually has a broader definition.
It means living independently in a home that is right for your needs. It may be your current home, it may mean downsizing, moving from a multi story home to a one-story home or apartment, or even just moving closer to your family.
Due to this, innovative solutions to help seniors age in place are being created for the burgeoning over-60 population. Learning what ideas will work in your home is just one part of your aging in place plan. The ones that you choose should involve changes to your home that creates a safe, usable & enjoyable space that is easier to live in as you age gracefully.
We’ve compiled a list of aging in place ideas to help you get inspired for the changes you can make to yours, or a loved one’s home. These ideas range from home remodelling projects to simpler things you can do yourself.
Throughout the Home
Opt for interiors that are easy to use and operate.
Incorporating heavy objects in your home that require manual lifting seems futile and dangerous as you age in place, unless there is someone on demand to assist you when manoeuvring objects.
Consider how technology can facilitate the aging process. Mechanisms such as front door locks, lighting and/or thermostats that you can control through a tablet may be easier to operate in advanced age.
To reduce glare and shadows in your home, which create trip hazards for seniors with faultier depth perception, install electric blinds that can shut off sunlight via a remote. You no longer need to manually pull blinds and curtains in place, which may in fact render costly injuries.
Another hack for minimising any manual labor may be to reduce how many times you need to change light bulbs in your home. Swap normal light bulbs for LED ones, so they will last longer and be more energy efficient.
In the bedroom
At Zoom-Room, we have invented the innovative electronic remote controlled murphy bed, which transforms into a comfortable and stylish bed by the click of a button. The benefit of this type of machinery is the beds ability to function as an entertainment hub, desk, or cabinet (whatever your heart desires) whilst evolving into a comfortable place to sleep at night.
This is particularly fruitful if you live in multi storey homes, or if you have parents who live in large residences with steep staircases. A multi-purpose murphy bed can be positioned and used as a master bedroom that is located on the ground floor. This way, you do not need to climb those hazardous stairs - a factor which was a catalyst for 12,000 deaths in the US alone last year. The Murphy bed also ensures you do not sacrifice on essential floor space in the room, with the electronic element safeguarding aging citizens from hurting themselves in the assembling process.
It is also always useful to design your home with ease of navigation in mind. Consequently, avoid bulky furniture that is likely to take up horizontal space and again cause hazards in the home. Instead, think vertically. But do this at a height that is easily accessible.
At Zoom-Room, we have our own dedicated custom cabinetry line that takes advantage of the vertical space and the specific dimensions of your room, to create a seamless product that is both ergonomic in design and attractive in aesthetic. They can be tailored to your exact needs and interior style, with comfort and ease of use in mind. For example, bedside shelving can be implemented, with a light in close proximity to the murphy bed to prevent you from walking around the room in the dark.
Useful tip: shelves that protrude from the wall can aid balance, as long as they are thick enough to grip
Opt for soft and smooth surfaces, like cork, rubber, and linoleum. These will be a lot softer for the aging in place individual and will not pose a trip hazard.
New innovative design solutions, such as bed exit alarms are also desirable to install in the flooring too. If you or your relative are determined to age in place, they alert a caregiver when a senior has moved from their bed (whether it be to go to the bathroom etc), to help prevent a fall from occurring.
In the bathroom
An adjustable-height showerhead with a handheld wand can assist you or a senior in bathing independently; a fundamental activity in preserving emotional wellbeing and independence. However, it still may be fruitful to incorporate a seat design or standard towel bars to support body weight and aid mobility.
There are so many innovative design mechanisms that are being implemented in the home to help US seniors age in the comfort of their own home. At Zoom-Room, we are here to help in that process. Our products are created with ease of use and functionality in mind - without sacrificing on stylish interior design.
For more information, call our friendly team today!