5 Ways Architects can Deliver Independence to Seniors


According to the AARP survey, more than 90% of seniors wish to remain in their own homes rather than live in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Their homes can be retirement homes or communities where independent living is still allowed.

People feel empowered and autonomous when they can control their surroundings. At nursing homes, they have to operate on a set schedule and that doesn’t bode well for seniors who’ve been independent for decades.

At their own homes, seniors can keep their favorite pictures and belongings, have companion animals, and their loved ones can visit without having to follow a strict schedule.

Nursing homes are often the last resort for seniors who are cognitively impaired. If they suffer from just a slight immobility, they can still stay in their independent retirement homes with a couple adjustments.

For seniors, in home care services can be helpful. Qualified caregivers drop by as often as needed to help with light housekeeping, personal hygiene, medication re-minders, going to doctor’s appointments, and more.

Retirement homes themselves are now being designed to accommodate seniors and promote autonomy. While senior homes are built with certain standards already sometimes small details are overlooked.

Paying attention to interior architecture can keep seniors mobile and safe. Here are some of the ways:

1. Latch-Style Door

Arthritis is common among seniors. It makes everyday living painful and difficult. Doorknobs require turning and strength, causing increased pain associated with arthritis. Doors are better replaced with specific types of senior living door latches.

UltraLatch by SOSS are arthritis friendly door latches. Instead of turning and pulling, the UltraLatch only requires light tapping and pushing and is an intuitive way to open doors. Door latches is one element that most people take for granted, but having an ADA compliant door latch such as the UltraLatch can make a night and day difference for seniors suffering from arthritis or other injuries.

2. No-Step Entries

Seniors are often in wheelchairs or use walkers. Steps are difficult to climb and can raise the risk of falling. To circumvent this, entries to the house must be barrier-free or have a ramp installed.

3. Garage Lift

Garage often has two or three steps to the inside of the home. Garage lift allows someone in a wheelchair to gain access from the garage or parking structure to inside.

4. Light Switches

Rocker-type light switches are easier on the hands than the more common flip switches.

5. Large Windows

It’s been proven that natural lighting is helpful for mood disorders and depression. Seniors are more prone to sadness and depression than any other age group. Large windows (10 to 20% larger) that let in a lot of natural light can help with this.

These are just a few of the design elements that architects can incorporate when building senior homes or retirement communities. The most important thing is try-ing to empathize with seniors and design intelligent architectural solutions about how their lives can be improved by paying attention to small details.