Aging in Place, as defined by Wiki, is "the ability to live in one's own home - wherever that might be - for as long as confidently and comfortably possible".
Think about that for a moment ... think about the home you are living in right now. It may be a little too big if you are an empty nester. It may be a little too small if you are a growing family. Then again, it might be just right.
But, even as Goldilocks would discover, an individual with a disability may not be able to function well in your home no matter how big, small or "just right" it is.
Barrier Free Design, in simple terms, provides accessibility. And by "accessibility", I'm not just referring to the occupant, it also applies to anyone who might want to visit.
Here in the Unites States, we have witnessed more than two decades of accessibility improvements, mostly due to the American Disabilities act of 1990. But the ADA does not apply to private housing, so seldom do we see ADA improvements in a Single Family Residence.
All of that is about to change. Barrier free design is becoming more than a need for those with disabilities. It is becoming a planning tool for developers and seniors alike who understand the trend for future housing needs.
Pretend for a moment ... you are confined to a wheelchair. Now imagine yourself going into your kitchen to make breakfast. How easy would it be to sit sideways in front of your stove and scramble eggs? How accessible are your pots, pans and utensils while you are cooking? Could you even get into your kitchen? (I couldn't, that's why I ask).
The photo in this post is an example of modern day barrier free design. The cabinet with pots and pans rolls out. The top of the cabinet provides a preparation area. A person in a wheelchair can roll under the cook top and face forward with easy access to the controls. The cooking elements are electric so that clothing will not be exposed to flames.
And the best part? It's beautiful. Accessibility no longer has to mean flimsy metal ramps and green Astro Turf. Barrier free design is bringing a well planned, aesthetic element into current and future housing. Be ready for it.
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Aging In Place: The Role of Barrier Free Design is one of a series of posts, sharing my thoughts about the aging baby boomer population and how it will affect where and how we live.
Other posts in this series thus far are:
Stay tuned for:
Aging In Place: Home Modification
Aging In Place: Reverse Mortgages
Aging In Place: Can We Talk About Hospice?