The current growth of the population ages 65 and older, driven by the large baby boom generation, is unprecedented in US history. According to population projections from the US Census Bureau, the number of Americans age 65 and older is projected to nearly double from 52 million in 2018 to 95 million by 2060. As they have passed through each major stage of life, this generation has brought both challenges and opportunities to the economy, institutions, and infrastructure – including how and where they live.
Aging in Place
In the world of architecture and design, we have been discussing the idea of aging in place for years. With the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the questions surrounding the prospects of our older population aging in place have become more acute. With the devastating toll that the virus has taken on those living in care facilities across the nation, many older Americans are considering if they should age in place or live with their extended families. This is going to be a very important ongoing discussion.
Sometimes referred to as “silver architecture,” this idea aims to make building designs that are sustainable, modern, and, most importantly, accommodating to the building’s occupants. When discussing silver architecture, we are considering elements such as low-glare lighting, sound absorbing walls and ceiling tiles, furniture that provides extra support for getting up and down, soft flooring in case of falls, the use of solids and simple patterns on furniture upholstery for both comfort and visual clarity.
Building from the Inside Out
For many years, I have been working with architects and builders to build homes from the inside out. When planning spaces for my clients, I take into consideration their lifestyle, their current desires, and their future needs. Here are some things to consider:
- Ramps leading to front and/or back door allows for easy access to the home.
- Grab bars in the tub or shower allow residents a level of independence.
- Nonskid flooring can allow greater mobility for a longer period of time.
- Looking for a building a home with all main living essentials on one level.
- Installation of an elevator for multi-level living.
- Lever door handles allow people with arthritis to more easily open doors as well as turn on and off faucets.
- Emergency devices for smoke and carbon monoxide that alternate loud alarms and visual strobes of light for people who are deaf or are hearing impaired.
Incorporating Aging in Place
Would incorporating a few of these elements make your home easier and safer to live in today as well as in the future? Do you or a family member have any requirements to be able to age in place in your dream home? As always, please contact me if you have any questions or see my article Hiring a Construction-Minded Interior Designer for more information about my design philosophy and process.