Architect’s Corner: Aging in Place
Designing Homes for Multigenerational Living
by Lisa M. Cini, founder, Mosaic Design Studio, Best Living Tech, & Infinite Living Collaboration
(Editor’s Note: Lisa Cini is an award-winning senior living designer, president/CEO of Mosaic Design Studio, and author of three books: “Boom: The Baby Boomers’ Guide to Preserving Your Freedom and Thriving as You Age in Place,” “Hive: The Simple Guide to Multigenerational Living” and “The Future is Here: Senior Living Reimagined.” The website, www.lisamcini.com, provides information about Cini, her books, and more. Her www.bestlivingtech.com site offers tech products that help seniors embrace aging and live independently.)
It can be daunting to redesign a home for four generations of family members all living under one roof. Picture kids in their teens, parents in their 40’s, grandparents in their 70’s, and a 95-year-old great-grandmother with dementia. Fortunately, technology can enable independent living and promote safety, security, and mobility for all ages. There are several living tips, as well as technological innovations, that can make multigenerational living more successful.
Independent Bath Rooming
For aging adults, falls happen most frequently in the bathroom. To avoid slips and trips to the ER, Assisto bathtubs reduce the risk of injury. The Brondell® Swash 1400 Electronic Bidet Toilet Seats feature self-sterilizing, stainless-steel nozzles, and safety seat sensors. The height-adjustable, heated, Luxury Class A8 Serenity Bidet Toilet Seat adds a wash and blow-dry, splash guard, and nightlight features to regular toilet seats. Pressalit® provides customized height-adjustable sinks with support arms, toilets, and shower systems suited to different body types and mobility levels. JACLO® offers stylish grab bars, hand showers, and washcloth holders. Delta Faucets and fixtures are touchless, and Pellet has created elegant shower seats, handrails, and height-adjustable sinks. Ever Life Designs’ toilet paper with phone holder, grab bars, and shower seats ensure safety and convenience in the bathroom. LiveWell’s grab bars enhance the shower, toilet, and the area over the toilet, as they are designed to be right where you need them without looking institutional. LED under-the-counter and door lighting provides under-the-sink nightlights and cabinet doors, allowing for wheelchair access, while Shaw Floor’s Sole with SensFloor® technology incorporates a safe and discreet sensor alerting caregivers if someone falls.
Care-free Companion Pet
Joy for All® brings comfort, companionship, and fun for older loved ones who may not be able to get out and walk, feed, or care for a real dog or cat. These innovative products help alleviate leading issues including social isolation, loneliness, and cognitive decline by delivering joy, fun, and happiness to improve quality of life.
Remote Health Monitoring Devices
Livio AI hearing aids have fall detection and track body and brain health in 27 languages. Zibrio’s SmartScale measures movements that indicate risk of falling. MouthLab™ by Aidar Health monitors more than ten medical parameters, including temperature, respiratory rate, blood pressure, breathing patterns, heart rate, lung function, etc., in 30 seconds. The MedWand handheld device allows for remote office visits and real-time collection of vital sign readings to accurately monitor medical conditions regardless of location. H2-BP is the world’s smallest and lightest wearable blood pressure monitor. Med-Q Automatic Pill Dispenser will flash the corresponding day slot with a bright red light and blast an alarm that increases in volume until pills are taken.
With just the push of a button, iRobot® Braava® Jet 240 Robot Mop wet and dry-mops the floors and is tiny enough to get under cabinets, beds, furniture, and even around the toilet.
Functional design is important for everyone, whether you’re short in stature, have shoulder issues, or are in a wheelchair. Pressalit offers flexible, height-adjustable kitchen cabinets and countertops that allow users to accessibly use the kitchen with ease. Reaching upper cabinets safely with accessible countertops to cut, mix, and stir encourages everyone to engage in the kitchen. An automatic stove shut-off device like Stove Safety from FireAvert automatically shuts the stove off if food starts smoking to prevent a fire.
Wellness devices like Fitbit®, Garmin®, and Apple® are all great tools to ensure loved ones are moving and keeping the blood flowing to improve brain function, reduce depression, and improve the immune system. Ecore™ offers a dynamic twist to the gym with its flooring surfaces, and the company’s itsTRU™ technology is ideal for reducing impact and the risk of injury, supporting joints, and mitigating noise. SMARTfit® offers a dual-tasking gamification machine that assists with cognition, balance, and recovery, whereas LifetimeVibe™, based on NASA technology, provides a safe vibration plate that increases balance and helps with many senior-related ailments from Parkinson’s to arthritis. Health Mate saunas outfit the space with a seated infrared sauna that allows your head to stick out of the sauna so you can read or enjoy your tablet while getting the benefits of increased blood flow and pain relief. The space also includes a massage room and hot and cold plunge pools to increase circulation and reduce joint pain and arthritis.