Ageless communities win the day

Apartments in shades of grey are linked by a graded pathway to provide accessibility. Ageless communities.
Image courtesy Guy Luscombe

It’s taken a pandemic to realise that for most people aged care isn’t something they choose or want to remain in. And it won’t be in the future. But what can we do differently? A workshop led by University of Queensland and aged care providers came up with a novel idea – ageless communities. This is what older people have been asking for.

The changes to home design in the building code will help people who buy/rent new homes in the future. So it’s time to re-think aged care design. A workshop run by The University of Queensland found that people wanted a real home with a real front door. So large institutional models are no longer in favour.

Another key theme was staying put and bringing services to the home.  Micro communities linked to the wider community are a good alternative. Homes with front doors on public streets are good for any age if the homes are designed appropriately. The University of Queensland project also responds in part to the Royal Commission into Aged Care. Small home models were one of the recommendations. The article is titled Smaller ageless communities predicted for care design.

Homes for life beyond 100

Four older men wearing hats sit at a square table in the park.

Don’t be fooled by the headline. The segregated model of housing lives on in the minds of the housing and construction industry. But when you look at what their new ideas are, their homes for life beyond 100 look remarkably like those in our ordinary neighbourhoods.

The “senior housing industry” in the United States is staying with the notion of segregation as the solution to living in later life. Residents could stay for as long as 40 years and that means their business model has to change. How these places are planned and built need a product recall. That’s what Nate Berg writes in a FastCompany article.

Health and fitness, intergenerational housing, and introducing university students into the mix is part of the new way of thinking. The way the designs are described in the article seem like good designs for all ages. Why can’t people of all ages walk from their apartment to the shops and restaurants? Segregated housing for people in later life perpetuates ageist attitudes and reinforces stereotypes. The notion of walkability and amenity is something everyone can enjoy.

Staying connected

According to the article senior housing models are changing from insular layouts to one that’s more connected and encouraging of social interaction. Interweaving senior housing with preschool activities is part of this “new” idea. The title of the article is How to design homes for life well beyond 100. It also covers issues of affordability and being creative with small spaces. 

If we are to combat ageism inclusive designs have much to offer. A new version of the segregation model might not be the way of the future after all. However, the senior housing industry both in the US and Australia is expecting to sell more of their products in the future. Building family homes that will last your lifetime is a challenge to their business model.

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