Michael Thomas, FASID, CAPS, an interior designer and a coauthor of Residential Design for Aging In Place, talks about the past and future of the aging-in-place movement and offers tips for making your home more accessible in only a weekend.
How do you define aging-in-place design?
Aging in place is about creating homes that are safe and secure but, more important, it’s about creating homes that will allow someone to remain as independent as they possibly can regardless of their abilities.
What’s the history behind the aging-in-place movement?
It goes all the way back to Franklin Roosevelt, who most people today know had polio. But at the time very few people realized he had the crippling disease. Around 1938, Roosevelt desired a retreat he could escape to from the spotlight of the White House, a smaller home where he could, in his own words, become the independent person he longed to be. As the recorded architect on the building, which he would call Top Cottage, FDR was able to specify things like zero thresholds between the doorways and lower windows, which allowed him to gaze outdoors from his wheelchair. FDR might not have invented aging in place, but he was among the first to apply its principles.