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.

The expansion focuses on improving the walkability of the community, both in terms of the layout and walking paths but also its accessibility to the kinds of amenities and places people want to go.

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.

In Australia, research with older adults shows that they don’t want segregation, they just want accessible and welcoming neighbourhoods. 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.