The Design-Build Community Tackles “Living in Place”
In this preview of a piece in the upcoming Technology Designer Magazine, we take a look at aging in place and what it means in this modern COVID-19 world.
BY BILL HENSLEY
“DUDE, THAT’S AN AWESOME CAR!”
I’m not a car guy. My favorite model is one that’s paid off. So it was surprising the number of times I got this comment, especially considering that it was a 20-year-old Toyota Camry I’d inherited from my mom. Exceptionally low mileage – she drove to church, the store, the doctor – and in the recent years was driven by her caregiver. It was immaculately well maintained. Not tricked out by any means, but super clean and the comments came from all over, most recently from the hairdresser who came to our house for the “new salon visit” mandated by this new COVID-19 world. I’d cleaned up the garage which seemed to work well as the “salon,” and from behind his fashionable mask, with his BMW parked in our driveway he said, “THAT is a nice car.”
My mom applied that attention to maintenance to herself as well, exercising routinely for as long as she was able, and living to a few weeks shy of 100, gracefully in place in the house she’d called home since the 1950s.
In the next Technology Designer Magazine, we’ll take a look at aging in place and what it means in this modern COVID-19 world where long-term care facilities present a new infectious danger. The first lesson will be that this is not at all “aging” in place, but rather “living” in place. We’ll hear insights from a couple experts in the field: Louie Delaware, co-founder of the Living In Place Institute, advises professionals in the building, design, and medical fields on the importance of identifying and mitigating the household danger spots when designing the “forever in place” home. And Toni Sabatino, an award-winning designer and spatial planner serving the renovation and new construction market throughout the New York Metropolitan Area, Palm Beach, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Orlando, Vermont and other resort locations.
Danger spots? You bet, the house can be full of them for our elder loved ones: Slippery floors can be common in the kitchen or bathroom, especially as each of these rooms mixes a hard floor with water, or even soapy water. We’ll discuss the impact of floor temperature as well; yes, that bracing chill of morning tile can be dangerous. Of course, the kitchen presents its own dangers with food preparation, but there are plenty of safe options. Smart kitchen appliances can help with instructions, alerts, or in the case of the induction stove-top, turning off the heat altogether. And of course, the home automation and security system that drives the smart home integration, can alert family members, enable video feeds to check on our elder loved ones, and more.
We’ll take a side tour into wearable technology including a smart sock that monitors the wearer’s gate to detect and eventually to predict falls with data interpreted and monitored with artificial intelligence software distributed via the cloud to deliver actionable information for patients and remote caregivers.
All of this comes together in the new intuitive and intelligent home designed for graceful living through our later years. The design-build team for these projects focuses on the long term, making sure the client will be able to comfortably age in the home. As Toni Sabatino summarized the relationship between designer, architect, builder and technologist: “We become a team and then become Team Client,” to make it a true “living in place” home.
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