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By: Monika Weiss and Lynette Evans
Even Universal Design, with its emphasis on shaping spaces usable by people of all ages and abilities, is not the end-all when it comes to building homes for people with special needs. People living along the autism spectrum may be able to move about fine but may be extra sensitive to sensory stimuli. They also may have difficulty relating to other people and may not be able to live alone.
With the rising number of diagnoses of autism, it has become evident to parents and caregivers that they may not be around to care for their autistic children when they are adults, and they are exploring group homes and communities that can give their adult children a sense of independence while keeping them safe. Michael Tortorello profiles one such community, Sweetwater Spectrum in Sonoma, Calif., in the Oct. 10, 2013, issue of The New York Times.
Will American's disdain for accessible building practices send older Americans into institutional living? In this Aug. 28, 2013, article from "Housing Perspectives: Research, trends, and perspective from The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies," Meyer Fellow Wanda Katja Liebermann spells out the problems facing planners, designers and consumers and suggests that there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. (Integrated access in Swarthmore, PA., pictured above, vs. unintegrated thinking about access.)
The discussion of how, and where, we will live begins here.
Oh, brother, we hope not but Mitchell Parker of the Houzz Editorial Staff thinks "the popularity of the throwback design is a response to the mainstream popularity of the open floor plans". A sunken living space, he continues, helps designers solve the transition from one floor material to another. We say, come on, designers! There must be a better way!
What is Universal Design? Visitability? Why do these ideas matter? And what do they have to do with climate change? Kathy Sykes, senior advisor for Aging and Sustainability at the Environmental Protection Agency, explains the simple principles of designing homes and communities to be usable by people of all ages and abilities in this American Architectural Foundation article. If you're a Baby Boomer, or know someone who is, you will be interested to learn what communities such as Charlotte, NC, and San Mateo, CA, are doing to make life easier for all of us.
The elderly HACKER. Not a description particularly pegged on the senior demographic yet they are constantly using creative solutions to make existing products more usable and relevant to them. Case in point, the hack saw blade attached just above flush to this drawer (right) is a great hack for someone with limited dexterity or use of only one hand.
All homes should be accessible, but many Americans conjure images of institutions and hospitals when we hear the words Universal Design. In her new book, "The Accessible Home: Designing for All Ages and Abilities," architect Deborah Pierce dispells the notion that "user-friendly" and "beautiful" are mutually exclusive, with stunning examples of homes like Brian McMillan's, shown here. Read full review.
An interesting look at the findings of data collected on more than 1,500 people over the course of 80 years. Comparing the lives, habits and personality traits of the longest living helped researchers unlock what they believe were the keys to longevity in those living longest. Most chapters end with a section titled "What it Means for You: Guideposts to Health and Long Life". Find out if this book is right for you.
Dr. Walter Bortz pens a how-to for those striving to hit the triple digits. Get moving is the short of it, but Bortz backs up this advice with the science behind it. Find out why this is a great read for those who want to explore health, aging and longevity beyond the gene lottery.