Styleture

notable designs and functional living spaces

Aging in Place

July 9th, 2009

A New Generation in Universal Design

Jaclo Tub Bars

JACLO Luxury Grab Bars

According to an ASID survey of U.S. homeowners, most Americans (82%) want to remain in their homes as they age, even if they should require assistance and care. Furthermore, it has been documented that more than half (52%) of American homeowners age 45 and older are interested in receiving information about remaining in their homes as they get older. While the topic of aging in place has been a recent buzz phrase – delved into by shelter magazines nationwide and abroad – it is a relatively new phenomenon; one that is gaining serious momentum, not only in the building industry, but amongst interior designers and homeowners, as well.

“In the last five years homeowners have started to understand how important aging in place is,” says Professor of Gerontology at California State University, Long Beach – Melanie Horn Mallers, P.H.D. “The boomer generation especially doesn’t want to be called old. They do not want to live in the traditional conception of a nursing home or assisted living facility as they grow older. They want to live in the comforts of their own home, with pride, control and dignity; they want to maintain their youthfulness and this has more than encouraged aging in place.”

Shower Handle

Contempo Grab Bar

Furthermore, Horn Mallers relays that the boomer generation is open to talking about the issues associated with aging and they are willing to ask for assistance, as they know that this is crucial to enhancing their quality of life.

So as the savvy boomer generation becomes interested in modifying their home to meet their needs, the term aging in place has become synonymous with aging in style.

“We boomers don’t plan on quitting anytime soon,” said ASID member Pat Rowen in an article entitled, The Boomer Boom is Coming. “We want it all: comfort, beauty, function, safety and style.”

To give the boomer generation all that they want, numerous manufacturers have recently been pushing the envelope with innovative, functional and stylish product designs, which enhance interiors rather than transforming them into the stereotypical nursing home.

Jaclo Grabbars

JACLO Luxury Grab Bars

To make the transition of aging in place easier on the eyes, manufacturers such as JACLO have created a full decorative slate of luxury grab bars, which come in seven styles and 16 finishes. They also do specialized finishes to match existing décor. Their grab bars can also be outfitted with an adjustable slider, which their line of handshowers can be attached to, allowing the user to sit (either on a bench or in a wheelchair) for a more comfortable bathing experience.

“Aging in place products are crucial not only to the homeowner, but also to a caregiver or family member who might visit the home on a frequent basis,” says Horn Mallers. “Helping an aging person can be physically demanding especially if the right equipment is not installed.”

ADA Compliant Toilet

Laufen ADA Compliant Toilet

Horn Mallers relays that one of the most popular products purchased is the grab bar, however she also mentions that raising toilet height, securing rugs, using hands-free faucets, replacing door knobs with levers and lowering cabinet heights have been key modifications.

Swiss company Laufen has created a line of wall-hung toilets from their designer collections, which are stylish and ADA-compliant. Their wall-hung toilets from the Palomba and ILBAGNOALESSI dOt collections can be adjusted to work within the guidelines set by the American Disability Act.

“Being able to decide where you want to live enhances dignity and maximizes self fulfilment,” says Horn Mallers. “Boomers want their home to be functional so that they do not feel dependant on others. There is no doubt that the market will keep up with their needs.”


Melanie Horn Mallers, Ph.D. is a professor at California State University Long Beach (CSULB). She teaches undergraduate and master level students in gerontology, human development, family studies, as well as health courses. She currently advises CSULB’s Gerontology Certificate Program, as well as oversees its chapter of the National Honor Society in Gerontology. She is an active member of the Gerontological Society of Aging (GSA) and the California Council of Gerontology and Geriatrics (CCGG). Her research includes examination of the link between aging and health. She is currently working on a collaborative grant with the Department of Psychology and Social Behavior at UC Irvine on daily stressors and adaptation to chronic health conditions.Dr. Mallers serves as a private consultant to families regarding caregiving and other age-related issues, including home safety, housing, and access to community based resources, as well as to business and community agencies regarding the cultural, economic and social influences on their aging customers/clients. If you would like to contact her, please feel free to email her at mhorn@csulb.edu

Toilet Grabbar

Toilet Grabbar

Grabbar Detail

Grabbar Detail

Horizontal Shower Bar

Horizontal Shower Bar

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5 Responses to “Aging in Place”

  1. Beautiful hand holds! Nice article. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Melanie, the role of aesthetics in the success of aging in place design is essential. The goal is to be nonstigmatizing and functional, as well as to delight the senses.

    Thanks for this informative post.

    Patrick Roden

  3. Like the others I thank you for posting this as it supports nicely the Age Well idea we promote at http://www.ELDERLUXE.com. Here, among nicer bath safety items, all of our products perform at the highest functional level while delivering a pleasurable style and aesthetic.

  4. Melanie,

    Nice article and good points!

    I might add that as our population ages, especially those of us in the “baby boomers”, we all want to keep our physical vitality and mental capacities at the highest possible levels. As a board certified Anti Aging doctor (the principles are actually “Healthy Aging”), Certified Clinical Nutritionist, and Chiropractor, methods toward maintaining our independence, including your concept of “aging in place”, are what the boomer generation wants. For additional useful tips and methods toward aging healthfully and maintaining vitality into our 80’s and beyond, see my blog articles at http://www.drhusbands.com/blog.

    Dr. Douglas Husbands
    http://www.drhusbands.com

  5. Melanie,

    Thank you for sharing your information about Aging in Place for Boomers. So often in my design business, my Boomer clients don’t think they are “ready” for these products. They think they have several years to think about using them in the next house. I thought the same way, until my husband required a knee replacement. The period leading up to the surgery had me thinking “how will he shower in the bath tub with sliding doors?” “He’ll have to live in the lower level for weeks until he can walk up stairs.”

    But the reality is even more intense. The door to the bathroom is too small for a walker. The toilet is too low. He has to rely on others to bring food and drinks. We have handrails, but no grab bars. But the most important thing I have learned through all of this is how easy it would have been for a builder to address these issues so that homeowners can live independently for as long as possible.

    Because of this, my design practice is dedicated to educating and helping Boomers live authentically and easily transition thru the changes life brings. Read my blog articles at http://www.rkdesignskbi.com.

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