Aging in 'Connected' Places

Ben Brown argues that design adaptations intended to accommodate America's swelling senior population by "aging in place" will be unable, on their own, to meet the challenge. He looks at one model of support that goes beyond universal design.
October 9, 2012, 7am PDT | Hazel Borys
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In 30 years, people over 65 years old will comprise 20 percent of the population. Currently, age-segregated housing is a $51 billion industry that is not keeping our elders connected with younger generations that can support them. Even if we come up with design retrofits to allow aging in place, the American dream delivered millions of senior households in isolated auto-dependent suburbs. Ben Brown says:

"The big push among advocates for seniors has been to build new homes and customize old ones for successful 'aging in place.' Almost all of the emphasis has been on universal design, on assuring accessibility in individual homes through design and remodeling choices that make it easier to get around in wheel chairs, reach stuff in cabinets and on countertops and assure safety in bathrooms. But aging in places that isolate seniors in their homes, regardless of how easy it is to climb out of the bath tub, is not going to get at the bigger problem. Especially in an era in which the very demographic forces that have served us Boomers so well turn on us when we need help most."

"We all should be for strategies that allow for successful aging in place. But for the strategies to offer meaningful advantages to both seniors and their communities, they have to begin with making the right places."

Thanks to Hazel Borys

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Published on Monday, October 8, 2012 in PlaceShakers
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