If you are like most people over the age of 45, you do not want to move from your house. It is a comfortable place, you know the neighborhood, you know the shortcuts, you are safe and secure. According to the AARP, older home owners overwhelmingly prefer to stay in their current home, which means living in a home safely, independently, and comfortable regardless of your abilities. The design of the home is very important and if you are in the process of design there are things you can do now that don’t add anything to the budget but are just good ideas. There are also many things you can do to your current home or to look for if you are purchasing a home already built.
The concept of aging in place design (what a terrible name, how about we call it simply good design) is not about designing for inabilities. There are particular things that you should do to make the home easy to use, maintain, and navigate. The same principles apply to a home you never plan to move from as they do if you hurt your knee in a weekend soccer match or if you are simply carrying in a load of groceries from the store. You need your home to be designed well.
If you are looking for a professional that can help you with these ideas there are a couple of certifications to look for to make sure they know what you need. First is one that I earned last year, the State of Virginia offers a Universal Design Certificate that qualifies you to do work through their system. That training is a one day event that teaches concepts and principles that designers should consider in homes they are designing. The other is done through the National Association of Home Builders called the Certified Aging in Place Specialist. This is a 3-day training that teaches builders and designers how to talk about aging in place and how to implement it into their designs. There is a CAPS training scheduled for Harrisonburg in May and I hope there is a room full of people who want to learn more about these concepts to better serve our community.