Whether we accept it or not we are always aging, it is an inevitable part of life.
 Although the aging process is a constant, our needs throughout our lifetime are not. Design Plan Document think that our homes should be able to change with us, giving spaces flexibility to accommodate our changing circumstances. For the young professionals, stay at home parent, teenagers, young adults who never leave, working from home, and caring for aging parents, COVID has highlighted just how flexible our homes need to be.

2020 has been a testing year for all. In particular the vulnerability of older Australians was particularly put in the spotlight due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Forced isolation meant that some families were unable to see their loved ones for months, with aged care residents having to endure the pandemic without family contact. If there was anything to take away from the pandemic it would be that time with our extended family members is often taken for granted. There is a new appreciation of the value of family. For many unconditional love becomes fraught when independent living is no longer possible. Being able to care for your parent, or older family member, is now a more serious consideration. An aged care facility may not always be a preferred option.


How to design for your parents to age in place

Engaging with a Building Designer to help design and/or retrofit your home to meet the needs of your aging parent/s, gives you peace of mind and creates a safe environment for taking care of your parent/s from home. Your building designer will use their experience and industry knowledge to apply design techniques suitable for your home and family. Design applications your Building Designer may use include:

Designing to the Liveable Housing Australia Guidelines

These are a set of guidelines suited to designing homes to meet the changing needs of home occupants across their lifetime, which includes:

  • Home access
  • Internal doors and corridor sizes
  • Accessible bathrooms, kitchens and laundries
  • Ground level access to bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Provisions for retrofitting future accessibility requirements

Designing to Dementia

Dementia is one of Australia’s leading diseases in the 65+ age bracket with 1 in 10 people over the age of 65 suffering from dementia, and 3 in 10 over the age of 85. The daily challenges associated with dementia include memory loss, difficulty focussing, decline in motor skills, and feeling disorientated. Being able to maintain familiar living surroundings is more comforting, in contrast with an unfamiliar, impersonal facility. 
Dementia sufferers benefit from specific design tools to promote independence and create a safe and familiar environment for both the sufferer and the carer. These include:

  • Visual and acoustic surroundings, avoid shiny or glossy surfaces.
  • 
Designing spaces that are warm, and comforting.
  • Designing suitable flooring materials such as carpet or vinyl, which are softer and reduce noise.
  • Designing to allow for visual cues in different rooms using colour, décor or furniture.
  • Allow adequate lighting for your parent/s to clearly see and observe their surroundings.

The benefits of designing to age in place

The benefits of designing/retrofitting your home to care for your parents is the peace of mind knowing that an experienced professional such as a Building Designer has designed your home with the needs of your family as the driver of the design. Your home is now a safe and comforting environment for your parent/s to age in place, and you will have no regrets of not spending enough time, or not being able to do more, knowing you’ve taken care of your parents yourself, from the comfort of home, to the best of your ability.

Useful Links:

  • 

Building Designer
    https://www.designplandoc.com.au/
  • Liveable Housing Guidelines
    http://www.livablehousingaustralia.org.au/library/SLLHA_GuidelinesJuly2017FINAL4.pdf
  • Designing for Dementia
    https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/ageing-and-aged-care/dementia-friendly-environments/designing-for-dementia

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels