I’m impressed and excited about all of the R&D (Research and Development) that’s been going on for the last 10 years in the “Aging in Place” space. There are some awesome products being created to help us all as we age, to stay in our own homes and communities for as long as possible. The products themselves are each striving to keep us connected, safe, healthy, happy, and independent for longer, and that’s truly a wonderful thing!
Here comes the BUT though…
Without someone that is a licensed professional on the elder advocacy team for your family, each of these product solutions by themselves, won’t work as well as they could without consideration of HOW THEY ALL WORK TOGETHER, and how they work FOR YOU, IN YOUR OWN HOME. A product is “speculative” just like developer homes are speculative when they are built in advance for a buyer (ANY buyer) vs. YOU the buyer.
Design solutions that work are “client-driven” and specific to how YOU live YOUR life. That’s where (in our case) the licensed Architect and Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist comes in (along with family decision makers & other certified professional like an Occupational Therapist, CAPS Contractor, and other valuable elder-related professionals like Geriatric Care Managers, Elder Attorneys, and Retirement Financial Planners). We feel that the more the merrier, in the sense that the more valid and valuable information that can be brought to the table along with the most professional input and angles to INFORM the DESIGN SOLUTION for your loved ones living environment, the better the outcome for all – the client as well as their family. When design is “client-driven” and are solutions based on real information about the individual being served by the design, the best resolution can be reached to keep the individual (aging or differently-abled in any way at any age) independent, healthier, happier, and safer for LONGER in their OWN HOME (or yours if that’s the environment we’re modifying).
To me this is just common sense, as I’ve been in architecture for 18 years and a licensed architect for over 10 years. This is how a PROFESSIONAL DESIGNER THINKS. But apparently it’s not how society thinks. People aren’t planning ahead enough. I’ve said this part many times throughout my blogging.
But just as important is the issue of the lack of professional coordination between industries for the best client outcome:
1) Product R&D Designers aren’t coordinating with designers in other correlated industries enough.
2) Occupational Therapists aren’t asking for the residential architect / home designer’s input enough (and I’m sure vice-versa, although we do at ADM Architecture whenever possible).
3) General Contractors tasked with incorporating individual pieces of AIP hardware aren’t
asking for overall design input from outside professionals enough.
4) Designers aren’t considering the client’s existing financial situation now and after-the-fact well enough, related to their retirement finances and likely (now or in the fairly near future) “fixed income” as a part of budgeting for the project and financing.
EVERY ONE of “our clients” NEED HOME DESIGN as a part of their overall and “best outcome” solution.
Your clients NEED ME, just like mine are better off with an Occupational Therapist and a CAPS General Contractor involved in the specific solution. Your clients need HOME ENVIRONMENT DESIGN SOLUTIONS just like my clients need to consider the fiscal portion of the equation and should be consulting with their financial planner during the process. Your clients need well thought out and big picture full turn key AGING IN PLACE solutions in their home just like my clients need their doctor and their caregiver involved in designing their medical health and care for longevity and happiness.
No ONE PROFESSIONAL can do this ALONE. It ALL OVERLAPS. If you as the professional (financial planner, occupational therapist, general contractor, elder law attorney, etc.) think that YOU are ALL the client needs to create their best future and latter 1/3 of life… well, you’re IGNORANT. I don’t see my part of the solution that way, and neither should you! You need ME. We ALL need EACH OTHER. It’s time to start thinking that way, and acting that way… for the benefit of ALL of our CLIENTS.
If we don’t we’ll be crushed in solitude and IGNORANT ISOLATION as the “Silver Tsunami” continues to land upon our shores in the tens of thousands of new 65 year old clients we are (well, could be if we worked together) receiving EVERY DAY.