Although I earned my CAPS (Certified Aging In Place Specialist) credentials many years ago, I was eager to hear Louie Delaware from the Living In Place Institute in Colorado speak at the NARI MN meeting last week. I wanted to learn what’s new to help people live comfortably and safely in their homes for as long as they like.
While the information was very familiar, marketing of the design principals certainly has evolved. If Louie is right, it’s more about what you don’t say to get homeowners to adopt and invest in accessibility upgrades to their homes.
Making Accessible Design Appealing
He expained that the movemement toward barrier-free living started in the 1950s. The American Standards Association published the first acessibility standards in 1961. By 1973 some 49 states had adopted their own rules. Federal guidelines came in 1984.
The initial Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements applied to public spaces and businesses, not private homes. And many of the products designed to achieve accessibility looked decidedly institutional. The first focus was on people with physical disabilities. Later, the concept of Universal Design broadened the scope to benefit people of any age or ability. The idea was that accessible design could look attractive and make life easier, safer and more comfortable for everyone. That was followed by the “Aging In Place” buzzword, which spoke to the enormous Baby Boomer generation that wants to continue living independently in their private homes.
According to Louie, the trouble is that most people don’t want to focus on aging; they prefer to think about living. Which is why he founded the “Living In Place Institute” to teach and certify contractors and designers.
The principles are the same whether you call it Universal Design, Aging In Place or Living in Place. Good design is about more than good looks. It also should improve your quality of life at home, however and whenever that life changes.
Here’s just one example from Louie’s talk. Install a GFCI-protected electrical outlet behind your master bathroom toilet when remodeling the space. Use it for a nightlight now. But it will be available to support a bidet toilet seat down the road. Louie claimed inability to take care of personal toileting is what causes many people to enter a nursing home.
Bottom line, you can count on APEX to keep an eye on the horizon even if you a focused on the here and now.