Can’t We Be More Creative than Granny PODS?

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OK, so you know “Aging In Place” is trendy, popular, and timely as a topic… when it’s on the COLBERT REPORT!  (and you know it’s okay to laugh a little bit about the fact that we ARE all AGING, whether we want to admit it or not).  It’s kind of like knowing “you’ve MADE IT” when Saturday Night Live does a parody on you… 

So clearly it’s a HOT TOPIC, this “Aging In Place” issue.

As you may know about me by now from previous posts, I enjoy a great sense of humor (Hence COLBERT link!) but I also preach that “one size fits all” is impossible in both CCRC’s  (Continuing Care Retirement Communities) and even in a “Granny Pod” (although that’s one step better in the sense it’s on site for family care giving). My stance is that without knowing the client you couldn’t ever design a client-driven solution, right?

Here’s an excerpt from one of our other blog posts that gets to the point of that matter.  FYI, I’ve been a part of a team and lead on construction drawings for a 135,000 square foot 4 story hotel outside of Seattle, so I understand this alternate view on “modular” and “repeatable” floor plans first hand, as explained in this excerpt…

Mr. Wiskin and I both realize (as people that have been in the design and building industries for decades), the developer’s goal for a Senior Living project is PROFITABILITY,  PERIOD.  Therefore, they adhere to the “code”, but in this scenario (and most) it’s a “baseline minimum” of adherence to requirements.  A facility with HUNDREDS of rooms or units, can NOT POSSIBLY meet the needs of each individual client when designing a product that will make money for the investors in the project.  Their goals in unit layout are efficiency, and a repeat-able module system (just like a hotel room layout on a floor) with a small number of different unit sizes and types, modified just slightly, with mirror-imaged floor plans re-used over and over, and MINIMUM requirements to meet “the code”.  The real goal?  Start selling units, getting occupancy, and making money!

So I feel the only way to solve “Aging In Place” correctly is ONE PERSON at a time, with each client getting the attention, listening, and solving skills of a qualified team to address THEIR SPECIFIC age, height, weight, abilities, sight, hearing, finances / budget, family history, genetic tendencies, etc. etc. etc. If someone can tell me how a Pre-Fab unit or a 300 unit floorplan assisted living or nursing home can create client-driven solutions better than tackling it one client at a time with active listening skills and creativity and a TEAM, I’d love to hear that argument.

Granny-Pods, the Med Cottage, a FabCab are all “good solutions for some situations”, but I feel the approach above is the ONLY solution that is an equation for success in EVERY situation.  That is the individual residential project that is a CLIENT-DRIVEN SOLUTION.  Have you ever heard the term “The TRUTH is 3 levels deep?”  Well if you don’t have a specific client to sit down and talk to, and to ACTIVELY listen to, how is it that your design solution could be based on the TRUTH?  Exactly our point.

And we’d also like to point out that with 2/3 of the current suburban homes being now “without kids” (a statistic that will soon be 3/4), WHY do we need to put another structure on our property at all?  For the price of these external buildings, we can do a full remodeling project to the home you already have, removing an extra bedroom, putting in an elevator, and even making one of the extra bedrooms for a potential future caregiver to be part time or live-in.  Doesn’t THAT make more sense as a better use of your money for Aging In Place?  We sure think so!

Thanks to Suzanne Perkins-Newman, CEO of AnswersForElders.com for her post on Empowering The Mature Mind’s LinkedIn Group, commenting on a blog of ours, which inspired this response.  Having to answer her brought even more clarity and conciseness to our USP (Unique Sales Position) on the topic, and made for a clear and clean message that is right to the point of our opinion, approach, and stance that fits our motto and tag line here at Empowering The Mature Mind,

“Dramatically improving our clients ability

to live a longer and happier life at home.”

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2 thoughts on “Can’t We Be More Creative than Granny PODS?
  • I’m in the care-giving field and each and every client of ours has different needs and want. However, there are a few things older seniors have in common and will eventually need. Bathrooms need a shower that does not have a stoop to step over, thus making it wheelchair friendly as well. There need to be hand holds by the toilette, in the shower and a railing around the bathroom to hold on to. – Next is the kitchen. If you could find upper and lower cabinets that install on wall tracks, the height could be adjusted. It may even work with the sink if you use flexible tubing. A sort of wall unit in the living room can be installed on the same principal to allow for adjustments. Handrails ought to be in the hallways. Carpeting needs to be low tuft or industrial quality to allow for walkers and wheelchairs. Those are a few of my thoughts and suggestions.

    • admin says:

      Petra, Thanks so much for your comments and insight. I completely agree with all of your ideas, and they are things as an architect who is passionate about aging in place success, that we work to implement when the situation suggests it and the client is willing. Keep up the great work you do, it’s a TEAM solution for sure! FYI, you can see more of our blogs at our website of course, but we’ve also started video blogging on our YouTube channel. Here’s the link to some of those videos in case they could come in handy for you or any of your own clients as educational resources! http://www.youtube.com/user/TheADmurph?feature=mhee Cheers! Aaron

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