At H.O.M.E., we think a lot about how the built environment impacts the seniors that we serve.
Aging in Place
A comprehensive literature review has linked the importance of the built environment in seniors to both physical and mental health, as well as to quality of life. This study concludes that, “ideally, people should not need to move to be in a supportive environment, but there is a need for elder-friendly knowledge, including terms of equity.”
And according to AARP, most people want to stay in their homes for as long as possible. However, in order for seniors to age in place, it is important that their homes are safe. Our Upkeep & Repair program helps senior homeowners who are living in their own houses to be able to do so safely. While many of the repairs that we make are emergency repairs to plumbing and electrical work, our Home Repair Specialists can also install grab bars, handrails, and ADA compliant toilets that help seniors when their physical needs may be changing.
Reduce Social Isolation
It’s not only safety issues that make a person’s living environment important to their overall well-being. A comforting, welcoming home is important, too. During the summer months, volunteer groups help seniors refresh their homes by painting interior rooms. Seniors tell us that this makes them more likely to invite people to their homes for visits, which helps to reduce senior isolation. One senior said, "I am no longer ashamed [to invite guests into my home]."
In our Intergenerational Housing Program, we consider not only issues of accessibility, but also how our spaces promote and encourage community-building.
At Nathalie Salmon House, there is ample community space on the first floor of the building where parties, classes, and informal group meetings take place. At Pat Crowley House, each floor where seniors live has living rooms and cozy nooks where residents can spend time outside of their own rooms with one another, volunteers, or other visitors. At Blackhawk Manor, residents share deck space. Neighbors like Gloria and Loretta have built firm friendships over coffee, and sharing macaroni and cheese recipes.
Our dining rooms at Good Life Senior Residences are particularly lively places, as they are in many homes. Sharing a meal is such a natural way to socialize and build relationships. That’s why we’ve put special care into thinking about the design of the newly renovated dining room at Nathalie Salmon House.
The new furniture, which should be arriving in the fall, will feature rectangular tables that can be fit together end to end for family-style feasts or separated for more intimate meals and social activities. Already at Pat Crowley House, we have been using a similar model and have found it promotes a family-like atmosphere at the dinner table.
We continue to look for ways to integrate age-friendly design into our buildings in ways that promote safety, comfort, and community. If you would like to join us in our mission, please click on the button below to get involved.
Here are few tips on age-friendly and universal design that keep older adults in mind:
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