Tammy Hart, I.D.D.P, CAPS is a graduate and tutor of QC Design School as well as a Certified Aging in Place Specialist from the National Association of Home Builders. She is the owner and award-winning designer for Designer Chick Co., and she’s the previous director of the National Board for DDA (formerly CDECA). She is a professional speaker and has spoken at venues like IIDEXCanada and the Small Business Forum. She’s been featured in East in the City Magazine, has had a guest spot on Daytime Durham, Rogers TV and has won the HOUZZ Service Award 2017. She works to empower young women to become successful future leaders and supports ocean clean-up efforts.

Recently, you’ve seen the launch of Aging in Place, QC Design School’s newest course. I’m sure you’re asking yourself why we launched this course and how it applies to design and decorating. I’m going to share why Aging in Place design and decorating is relevant to your business and how you can incorporate it. Keep reading!

grandpa with grandson aging in place design

What is Aging in Place?

Aging in Place (AIP) is one’s ability to choose where and how someone wants to grow older for as long as they possibly can. Let’s face it, we are all going to grow old—it’s a fact of life. But as our baby boomer population ages and people live healthily much longer, it’s becoming more common for people to want to age gracefully. They want to be empowered to choose the next steps in their journey.

Gone are the days of simply being moved into a senior’s care facility after a certain age. No matter if it’s independent living or assisted living, the exorbitant rising costs of these facilities and the long wait lists means people are looking for other options.

By staying in our homes as long as possible, our mental health vastly improves. And by staying mentally healthy, we can try harder to stay physically healthy.

Who will be my Aging in Place clients?

We can look at Aging in Place from two perspectives. Proactive Aging in Place and Reactive Aging in Place. Both these streams can involve renovations, modifications and organization efforts in a person’s home.

wheelchair accessible home design

Proactively choosing to age in place is normally for the fore thinkers—the planners—who are my 50 to 70-year-olds.

Reactive AIP is in response to a progressive medical condition or an urgent event (such as a slip, trip, and fall). I find these cases are normally reserved for my clients in their mid-70s or older.

No matter what perspective your clients are coming from, functionality and safety are key concerns, followed by maintaining the beauty of their home.

How can Aging in Place complement my existing design business?

Firstly, you can look at this from a design perspective. Focusing on major renovations such as bathroom renovations, kitchen renovations, or main-floor renovations to name a few. Your goal is to create spaces that are both functional and livable for your clients.

Secondly, you can look at this from an interior decorator’s perspective where you focus on decor elements to improve the home’s functionality. From lighting/wayfinding to color consulting for the aging eye to simple modifications to a home. Minor changes such as changing turn taps and/or knobs to lever taps and/or handles can have a significant impact.

Lastly, you can assist those choosing to age in place through professional organizing or downsizing. It may be moving them to a bungalow to suit their needs or simply just decluttering their homes.

aging in place woman who lives in home

How do I fit this into my business model?

Just like Feng Shui and Home Staging, Aging in Place isn’t the right fit for every interior designer or interior decorator. First, make sure the discipline aligns with your business and its values. Taking the Aging in Place course through QC Design School to understand the extent and specifics of this business is vital. You then need to create a marketing plan to target your clientele.

  • Is it through workshops and education sessions?
  • Is it through trade shows geared to those who’re 50-years-old plus?
  • Is it through age-specific magazines or community centers?

This part of your design business needs to come from a holistic approach. Have a team in place, including health care providers, in-home nursing agencies, occupational therapists, and contractors who understand Aging in Place construction requirements. They must be able to incorporate visitable and universal design, so it’s important to find your trusted partners.

old family members at family party backyard

Be mindful and empathetic with your Aging in Place clients

Whatever your role is, understand that coming to terms with aging is not an easy one. Most people’s roles go from being the parent to be the one who’s cared-for. And the children change roles from being cared-for to becoming the caregiver.

The joke goes, “40 is the new 30. 50 is the new 40. 60 is the new 50”… You get where I’m going with this. But the truth is that we are in denial about our age and what happens to our bodies and abilities as we age. Treat your AIP client with respect, and empower them with decision-making abilities. After all, it’s their home and their life.

Do you have any questions about aging in place? Let us know!

Are your client meetings going in circles? Check out Tammy’s tips for better client meetings!

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