I don’t know about you, but in terms of aging, I have a plan. Plan A is that I won’t grow old. Plan B is, if I have to get old, I’ll go down swinging.
Thus, I was encouraged to learn that new technology and a forward-looking designer promise to make aging at home a lot easier. And according to a recent AARP poll, 77% of those over 50 want to “get old.” (This is language for not going to a nursing home.) That percentage jumps to 86% among those over 65, which tells me that the older I get, the less the idea of sitting in a nursing home under someone’s thumb without a car. become the keys.
“Boomers are especially reluctant to give up their freedom,” said interior designer Lisa Sene, living design expert and owner of Mosaic Design Studio in Columbus, Ohio. “Especially after the collapse of Covid, and subsidized living centers becoming places no one could visit or leave, the baby-boom generation became more and more determined to protect their independence.”
It makes it easier for them. After 25 years of designing assisted living facilities, and after remodeling her home in Columbus so that it could accommodate four generations — she and her husband, two teens, her 70-year-old parents, and her 92-year-old grandmother who had dementia — Sene directed Her personal and professional knowledge of the lives of the elderly leads to a new venture.
After her grandmother dies, and the kids head off to college and work, she finds a historic mansion in her town for sale. She bought it and turned it into an Airbnb with nine bedrooms designed to house seniors in comfort, safety, and style. (I like the style part. If I’m going to age the place, this place should look good.)
“What more can you do than eliminate trip hazards, add lighting, extend wheelchair and walker entrances, and install lever door handles,” I asked Sene over the phone.
Much. The Werner House features more than 50 elderly-centric techniques, most of which blend invisibly into the beautiful décor. “Some guests stay and never know that something is out of the ordinary,” she added.
In fact, while Sene takes me on a virtual tour, what amazes me the most is that nothing on the 10,000-square-foot property screams “This is for seniors!” The technical touches throughout are discreet and practical.
Marketed as an Airbnb with a mission, The Werner House (Infinite-living.org), which opened to guests in April, aims to subtly market products to those who want to age in the space, and encourages them to experiment with new technology during their stay. which they might later adopt at home, Sene said, adding that she eventually wants to take the Airbnb concept nationwide.
Here’s a sample of the built-in amenities:
◼️ floors that feel. Five of the suites feature Sole with SensFloor technology from Shaw Floors. The basement, which allows any type of flooring to pass over it, has built-in sensors that can detect someone falling, versus when they’re sitting on the floor, and can then send out the appropriate alert for help. You can also program the floor so that the bathroom light comes on when your feet hit the floor from the bed.
◼️ Noise-isolating carpet. In public areas such as the dining room, the modern and the living room, the rug features noise canceling technology. “Many elderly people have low hearing, and they stop going out to eat because it’s hard for them to hear,” Sene said. “The rug absorbs the noise, which makes conversations easier.”
◼️ Firmer seats. The cushions on chairs and sofas throughout Werner House are made of super-dense foam, and no seat is under 19 inches. Some of the upholstered club chairs have a beautiful wooden and brass fold on the back, to hold a folded walker.
◼️ Full service bathrooms. Adjustable toilets are raised to help guests sit, and lowered for ease of use. Toilet paper holders have built-in grab bars, and bidet seats were added to standard toilets to aid hygiene.
◼️ Banks that coincide. Bathrooms also feature adjustable tubs that can drop to wheelchair height, tubs with side rails to help people stand and sit, and accessible spa tubs.
◼️ lockers that come to you. In kitchens, smart cabinets have a mechanism that allows them to slide out of the wall and down to your level, which is a boon for those who find it difficult to reach and lift items from upper cabinets. Once you have what you need, go back to the closet. The height of the kitchen tables is adjustable to accommodate a 5-foot woman and her 6-foot spouse. “This is a big deal for the downgrade, it’s all about leverage,” Sene said.
“Having a home that adapts to you and keeps you safe shouldn’t be out of the question,” she said.
Now it is no longer so.
Marnie Jameson is the author of six books about home and lifestyle, including What To Do With All You Own To Leave The Legacy You Want.