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E – 1721 Aging in Place – Eliminating Traps

Intended Audience: Civil, Building Engineers & Architects.


In millions of homes across our country, and in the homes of people we love, existing residences are slowly but surely becoming prisons for their occupants. This happens as the aging process inevitably removes our ability to successfully navigate stairs and perform daily tasks required to live and survive independent. Societal options exist to move from private residences into congregate living facilities, where oversight and care are offered at various levels for those facing challenges. But few are interested in thus surrendering their independence. We prefer to just age-in-place.

It is possible to remain at home as physical and / or mental deterioration makes doing so more challenging. Given the amount of research that preceded establishing design standards to accommodate the handicapped, new structures can be designed which are far more user friendly to the elderly. Changes to existing homes can also be made in incremental steps as needs arise, just not as efficiently as doing so
from scratch.

The knowledge and technology to enable our elders to stay at home are well established. All that is lacking are finances to do so, the time to do so, the will to do so and wide-spread dissemination of knowledge on how to do so.

The last of those issues is addressed in this work.

Learning Objective:

At the successful conclusion of this course, you will learn the following knowledge and skills:

  • A thorough understanding of physical changes that can be made in common residential structures, to make aging-in-place less physically challenging and less dangerous.
  • An increased awareness of physical changes that can be made in common residential structures, to make aging-in-place less mentally confusing and therefore less dangerous.
  • Knowledge of navigational challenges faced by the elderly outside the home, and how these can be mitigated through better design.
  • How to make changes in typical lighting strategies to improve living conditions for an aging population.
  • The proper design of exterior amenities to facilitate an increased enjoyment of nature by an aging population.
  • How different choices in finishes reduce or increase dangers in interior and exterior environments, typically encountered while aging-in-place.
  • Design choices that make common areas in multi-family housing more user friendly and safer for the aged.
  • Changes in normal cabinet layouts to make them easier for use by the handicapped.

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