About the SeniorAdvisor.com 2014 In-Home Innovation Scholarship: We started the scholarship program to bring awareness of the unique benefits and challenges of in-home caregiving for seniors to younger generations. The questions posed by the scholarship encouraged our nation’s future caregivers to present solutions for improving home care in the United States. College-aged students were required to answer one of the three essay topics below and provide a short bio as part of their scholarship application. Read the winning essays here.

How can your major of study improve the lives of seniors receiving in-home care services?

Essay response by Payton Prosser

The true value of the architect is their ability to cater to the needs of those who will inhabit a building. A structure must serve those that are using it; what good is a warehouse if the person who owned it needed it to serve as a restaurant? A building’s function must align with its purpose, and it is the architect’s job to make that happen. In this way, architects have a lot to offer today’s seniors. Many homes are not suited for their elderly inhabitants. Seniors may have stairs that are too steep to climb, cabinets that are too high to reach, or showers that are too dangerous to use. Challenges like those make it sometimes impossible for a senior to live in their home, and often prompt them to move into retirement facilities. It eliminates their independence and sometimes even their ability to receive effective in-home care. Their homes do not serve the function of aiding their elderly inhabitants, and that is where the architect comes in. Architects can help improve the lives of seniors receiving in-home care by either remodeling or building homes to suit seniors.

The first way that architects can improve seniors’ lives is by renovating the house they already live in. This way they get the benefits of staying in the home they love without dealing with the house’s previous discomforts. Now some people may say, “Wait a minute, you don’t need an architect to remodel!” and that may be true. However, architects have a big advantage over contractors, carpenters, and a senior’s renovation-crazy relatives. As mentioned earlier, no one caters to the needs of their clients like architects do, and the elderly have more specific, challenging, and demanding needs than the average person. Seniors need someone who will make sure all of the necessities are met. In addition architects will have a broader knowledge of available options. This will ensure the senior’s needs are met. There are a variety of things that an architect can do to a pre-existing home. If mobility is an issue, they may incorporate ramps and stair lifts into their design. If a senior cannot reach high places, the architect may lower cabinets and replace high shelving with alternative storage closer to the ground. Often, they redesign a home’s layout so certain spaces are easier to access. Bathrooms are often re-designed. Showers and tubs usually need to be replaced with versions that include seats and hand rails; toilets may need to be raised for those who have difficulty standing up. These are just a few of many options architects can offer seniors. Options like these can improve a senior’s quality of life and allow them to live comfortably in their own home.

The other main way that architects can improve the lives of seniors are designing homes especially for elderly homeowners. This option is ideal for those who wouldn’t mind a change of scenery in exchange for the benefits a new home can give them. While this rout may be more expensive, there are far less limitations on the features that can be in a senior’s home. The homes are elderly-friendly to from the start because that is how they are originally designed.  These houses are well lit, so that a senior can avoid incidents with unseen obstacles. Exits are made especially accessible in case of a fire. Doorways and hallways can be wider than standard to accommodate for those in wheelchairs or scooters. Often, architects will design ranch-style homes for those who have difficulty with stairs so that their entire home is on a single level. Another option is incorporating a custom elevator for those who want more than one floor.  The options are endless. Homes like these can aid the elderly in so many ways to improve their lives.

Architects can enhance the lives of the elderly greatly. By improving the environment that seniors live in, architects impact their lives in a way that is positive as well as profound. Not only can elderly peoples’ lives be made easier by the architectural field, but seniors also are able to live in their own home. There is both dignity and freedom in that. The architect enables the elderly in a way not many other professionals can. For seniors, the architect has the unique ability to make a house a home.


About Payton

Payton is pursuing a degree in architecture at the University of Kansas.

Senior Advisor's knowledgeable writers blog about senior care services, trends and more.

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