If you’ve been following our blog over the past few months, you know that we’ve focused quite a bit on ADU’s, or Granny Flats. As the State of California pushes to add more affordable housing over the next decade or two, we should also remember that one of the traditional reasons for building independent living units, such as Granny Flats, was to house our Grannies … in other words, our aging parents.
We’ve found that about 25-30% of our clients building ADU’s are still building them for that very reason. They have a mother, father, or other senior relative who is needing to make, or planning ahead for, some life adjustment. Often, these relatives don’t need immediate, round-the-clock professional care, but they would do well with someone close to look in on them occasionally. They would like to have their own space and maintain some sense of independence.
We all would, right?
What is Aging in Place?
Aging in Place occurs when a person is able to live in a home of their choosing (usually at home). It affords them as normal a lifestyle as possible, so they can perform everyday functions with little or no assistance—despite some of the restrictions and limitations that come with age or illness.
In the remodel industry, Aging in Place design means we consider our clients’ future needs, understanding the physical restrictions that come with age and illness. Our designs enable elderly or disabled residents to perform normal daily tasks easily.
Designing for Aging in Place
Aging in place design is, essentially, based on accessibility. In order to function and live a good quality of life, our clients need to attend to every day tasks:
Tending to personal care and hygiene
Cleaning and laundering
We understand conditions that increase one’s risk for accidents—diminished mobility, low endurance, poor eyesight, and loss of balance and strength. These issues can affect our clients’ lifestyles and abilities.
This means we consider every detail for safety and accessibility design:
Grab bars and handles
Wider halls, passages, and doorways
Roll-under sinks, cooking, and countertop areas
Low threshold, roll-in door, sills, and showers
Ramps, lifts, and elevators
Lever style doorknobs and oversized cabinet pulls
When to Design for Aging in Place
We generally have two types of Aging in Place clients: those with immediate needs and those who have some time to plan ahead.
Those with immediate needs may have had a recent unexpected medical or health incident that has altered their ability to function properly. Often, we provide short-term design solutions until we can consider and carry out a more permanent, long-term design and renovation. These short-term renovations and modifications tend to be more functional than aesthetically pleasing.
Then we have clients who simply know they are aging and would like to plan for that eventuality. We work closely with these clients, considering their eventual needs based on their lifestyles. We plan well in advance and incorporate Aging in Place design features that are aesthetically pleasing as well as highly functional.