Ageing in the right place

Front cover showing the four steps for ageing in the right place
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The My Home My Choices tool from New Zealand has some good advice about ageing in the right place.

The tool has four steps: individual wants and issues; opportunities for improvement in the home and lifestyle: different options for maximising the use and value of the home; and other choices such as moving, sharing, home modifications and home support. 

This tool is easily adapted from the New Zealand model and you can also read the research behind it.  

Ageing better at home

Bathroom in an old house has been stripped and bare walls and old tiles remainBecause the majority of our homes are designed as if we are never going to grow old, most of us will need to modify our home as we age. That’s if you want to stay put, which is what most older people say is their preference.

A report from Centre for Ageing Better in the UK gives an excellent overview of how home modification improves quality of life, mental health and overall independence. All good reasons for universally designing our homes from the start for the whole of our lives so modifications aren’t needed or are at least easier to do. Dwellings might be a “product” to property developers but for the rest of us a “home” is the pivot point for living our lives.

A great quote from a study participant to reflect upon, “You don’t get taught, at any point in your life, how to become an older person. It just sort of happens, you know…”. So waiting for consumers to ask for universal design isn’t going to work.

Australian research

Front cover of the reportIf you want to know what people think about accessible housing, the findings from a 2018 survey gives a good idea. There are four narratives that frame the report: the housing industry view; the government view; prospective buyers’ view; and the perspective of people who need mainstream accessible housing.

The survey was initiated by Australian Network on Universal Housing Design. It is a lengthy and detailed report. Essential reading for anyone interested in this topic or the history of this 20 year campaign. 

A poor fit between the home and what older people need can lead to unnecessary care needs, increased caregiver time and early institutionalisation.