Aging in Place Vital for Peace of Mind


We’re still in May, Older Americans’ Month, and a recent article by Jerry Rouleau and Scott Stroud explores a concept that’s very important to us for that reason. They interview Tracy DeCarlo, of the consulting firm Detailed Solutions, Inc., who has written several books on maximum usability in a home. DeCarlo’s slogan is “Sales Follow Function.”

This concept includes and is known by several different terms, but whether you call it accessibility, inclusive design, universal design, or transgenerational design, a set of expectations exists that make possible the comfort and reassurance of aging in place. Something like 4/5ths of American senior citizens have absolutely no desire to leave their homes to live in institutions. They want to stay where they are, and architects and builders are lining up to help them do it. This article covers six of DeCarlo’s more than two hundred tips. For example, the authors describe their expert’s take on the full-function laundry room, something DeCarlo has seen done wrong in multi-million dollar houses:

There is no industry standard as to whether the washer goes to the left or the right of the dryer. If you purchase a washer and dryer as a set, they are set up so that the doors open opposing each other, making it easy to transfer laundry. But… the existing plumbing often forces a homeowner to switch the set around, forcing both the washer and dryer doors to open into each other. Since the doors are rarely reversible, this turns a common task into an uncomfortable burden.

A built-in ironing board is all well and good, DeCarlo says, but it’s an excellent idea to find out if the client is left-handed, before installing a feature oriented toward a right-handed person. She’s a big fan of the central vacuum system, which is measurably more healthful than the alternative, especially where allergic people are concerned. Besides, some green certification programs allow points for the central vacuum system, due to the improvement of indoor air quality.

Stove hoods and bathroom vents need to dump their air outside, not recirculate it, and this is a detail DeCarlo sees as well worth attending to. She strongly encourages that attention be paid to surge protection, for the sake of phone and cable lines, as well as to preserve the dozens of electronic appliances a contemporary home is likely to contain. The authors say,

New home buyers will get real value and usable benefit from such systems, and the small investment to offer them such protection could give you a real competitive advantage, even in a tight market.

On the subject of the all-purpose garage, DeCarlo is very enthusiastic, urging us to think of it as a room in the house, which will have furniture, just like any other room. The garage’s furniture consists of workbenches, sinks, mechanical devices, cabinets, storage bins for unseasonal clothing and equipment, and many other possible items. That’s in addition to being a home for cars, bikes, snowmobiles, mowers, jet skis, weed-eaters, trash cans and recycling bins. The last thing a garage should be is an afterthought.

All in all, it looks like consciousness of the Aging in Place trend is really starting to catch on.

SOURCE: “Sales Follow Function: 6 Ways to Differentiate Your Homes and Connect With Buyers” 04/20/08
photo courtesy of Elsie esq., used under this Creative Commons license

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