BY LifeScape Premier concierge medical practice in Scottsdale, AZ and Dr. Susan Wilder
As our Baby Boomer population continues to age and new advances in interior design, building materials and a better understanding of human factors engineering inform our environment, it’s increasingly imperative to understand design modifications that empower successful aging. We invited ASID award-winning interior designer and Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist Bonnie J. Lewis to write a guest blog for us this week. Bonnie not only works with individuals to make safe spaces in their residences, but she also worked with us on the recent design and refresh of our concierge medical practice interiors.
While you may already be doing many things to ensure you are healthy and age well –– there’s one important thing you may have overlooked. Your home should be “Aging in Place” ready. That is when a home is modified or remodeled to make it ready (and safe) to accommodate your naturally occurring changes, which come with the privilege of aging.
An Ounce of Prevention
What makes Aging in Place design so important is that it prevents falls, accidents, injuries, and even death. It can enhance the quality of your second half of life and your longevity.
You May Be Surprised to Learn These Startling Facts
Every year, 1 out of 3 adults age 65 and older will experience a fall. Up to 30% of those who do will suffer moderate to severe injuries or death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Often, once a person falls, they are fearful of falling again, which perpetuates a negative or downward spiral in their condition. So the real goal is to prevent all preventable (environment-related) falls.
“Every year, 1 out of 3 adults age 65 and older will experience a fall.”
Timing is Everything!
Implementing Aging in Place design BEFORE you think you need it is vital. Particularly if maintaining your independence and freedom to choose where you live is important. All too often, people wait until it’s too late to reap the benefits of a home that’s designed for successful aging and longevity.
You have probably known someone, perhaps even a parent or loved one, that was forced into a nursing home or assisted living after experiencing a fall, accident, injury, or illness, because their needs changed and their home “couldn’t” accommodate them. But, in reality, the home could accommodate them, it just wasn’t ready to.
Home Design Modification Tips
- As we get older, balance becomes an issue, making it easy to lose your footing, slip and fall. To be safe, replace any slick or slippery floors with a slip-resistant flooring material.
- Remove rugs, as they pose serious trip and fall hazards.
- Bathrooms can be menacing for anyone over 55, but don’t have to be. Have a qualified Aging in Place design professional evaluate and re-design your bathroom to eliminate hazards and ensure accessibility.
- Increase lighting to compensate for aging eyes and related vision impairment to prevent falls and accidents.
- Install lever style door handles to make opening doors easier and relieve arthritic pain.
- Widen interior doors for mobility device accessibility.
- Effectively use color to enhance your mood, and provide visual queuing as an aid to visual impairment.
- Have your kitchen evaluated and, if necessary, modified to ensure it will be safe and meet your future needs.
Make a Wise Investment
If you’re already planning a remodel or renovation project, it’s cost-effective and wise to be proactive and incorporate Aging-in-Place design.
If you are planning to downsize into a new home or condo, be sure that it will accommodate your future needs and/or determine what it will take to make it aging-friendly, BEFORE you make the investment.
Aging in Place remodels that have all four of these characteristics will generally increase property value:
- Well designed and constructed
- Tasteful and beautiful aesthetics
- Non-institutional look and feel
- ADA-code compliant design and features
Aging in Place design is a beneficial, preventative measure for successful aging and longevity.
Here is a set of Before & After photos of a recent bathroom remodel by Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist Bonnie J. Lewis:
Bonnie J. Lewis, Allied ASID, Assoc. IIDA, CAPS, is an ASID award-winning interior designer and Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist. She is the founder of 55+ TLC Interior Design and Copper Star Interiors, and a member of the Arizona Fall Prevention Coalition. Bonnie is skilled in understanding future needs and designing beautiful, functional, safe spaces for vibrant living and longevity, and she gifts her clients with peace of mind. Her firm specializes in renovation and remodel design, home evaluations, and color consultations.