Friday, March 1, 2013

Home DesignDesign Strategies to help you "Age In Place"

A beautiful bench seat in the shower is desirable to all ages
One of the most traumatic and easily avoidable events faced by seniors in our society occurs when able minded homeowners feel forced to leave their homes because it is no longer accessible or safe for them to stay.  This scenario looms in the minds of hundreds of thousands of Americans and it's reality is closing in faster and faster.

As of April 2010, 40.3 million Americans were over the age of 65.  They account for over 13% of the US population.  81% of these Americans own their own home and over 60% plan to remain in their homes for as long as they can.

The reality is; however, that most American homes are not designed to accommodate the unique needs of the elder population.  In fact, most homes cannot serve the needs of persons of any age who have temporary or long term disabilities.  Impairments due to the natural aging process begin as early as age 40 and gradually increase over the next few decades.  By the age of 75, 50% of people suffer from significant vision and hearing losses that contribute to social isolation, one of the most harmful factors affecting the health and well-being of seniors in our society.

The good news is that there are a series of adjustments that can be made to the majority of homes that will allow aging Americans or those with disabilities to remain in their homes, maintain their independence and increase the value and usability of their home all at the same time.  These principles can be applied to new or existing homes and they can be done for far less money than is required to move into an assisted living or nursing facility.

In Greenville, SC, a group of experts will come together during the Spring 2013 session to offer a unique series of courses dedicated to helping people who want to stay in their homes and live an independent life.  Through the OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) program located at Furman University, the course titled "There is No Place Like Home" will bring together panelist including Interim Healthcare, Kustom Home Design and a series of  legal, financial, and insurance experts to lead an 8 week course focusing on ways to keep homeowners in their homes.

As a professional designer with parents approaching this milestone I have first hand knowledge and experience with the sentiments and emotions that drive many of the hesitations, fears and decisions involved with charting a course for this stage of life.  It is for this reason that I have partnered with this group of dedicated professionals and have volunteered to lead the April 16th course by offering professional design insight, advice and strategies for seniors who wish to stay in their homes longer and more comfortably.   I will explore the changing needs of seniors, explain the design implications of such needs and apply Universal Design strategies to provide real world solutions for those who wish to "Age in Place".  There are many challenges we all face with aging related issues, but with proper planning and professional direction staying in your home and maintaining your independence does not need to be one of them.

Registration for the course begins February 26, 2013 on the Furman University website  http://www.campusce.net/olliatfurman/category/category.aspx


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