One fun aspect of getting a bit older is learning new vocabulary. Have you started to get familiar with terms like “aging in place” and “universal design” yet? A third term, trademarked by Second Summer®, is elderyarding®.
Elderyarding® is the design and development of adaptable yards and gardens that meet the lifetime needs of homeowners who are aging in place.
Here at Second Summer®, we’ve combed the research on how to design outdoor environments for senior apartment complexes, assisted living facilities, memory care centers, and nursing homes. Then we tweaked and applied that research to develop five concepts for Elderyarding® that are the groundwork for our designs.
1. The yard should be safe to navigate.
Paths and walkways should be wide enough to handle a walker or wheelchair. Immediate installation can be a soft surface such as mulch if a hard surface isn’t needed right away. Lighting should illuminate grade changes like steps and locations with faucets or recycle bins. Plotting sun and shade patterns can ensure that footing and depth perception are supported.
2. Speaking of recycle bins, it should be easy to handle tasks in your yard.
Getting the newspaper, checking the mail, taking out the trash, watering patio plants in containers should be safe. Handrails or seating may be added for resting between chores and faucets raised, with new handles if you have a chronic disease like arthritis.
3. Everyone responds differently with their five senses.
The colors, fragrances, surfaces, and sounds in your yard should evoke delight and pleasing memories. Because your senses fade with age, the yard is a wonderful location to stimulate the nerve connections to the brain and help keep both senses and memory sharp. And your yard should be customized for your preferences and experiences, to further strengthen and support the brain.
4. As you age, it can become more of an effort to go outside, especially if a chronic illness is involved.
Yet studies show repeatedly that fresh air and exercise, including a daily 20-minute dose of sunlight for vitamin D are important to retain your health, relieve stress, and heal more rapidly. Your yard should include comfortable seating in both sun and shade, sited to minimize glare, plus plant combinations in doorway gardens and across the yard that stir curiosity and invite stepping outside to explore. A place for soft-surface yoga or a designated path for walking mediation can help make nearby exercise a habit.
5. An Elderyarding® design anticipates the future and is ready to accommodate later needs.
The plan should give careful thought to items such as paths, additional lighting, movement of favorite plants to patio containers, and height for controls such as faucets and bird feeders. An effective design can plan for transformation of design ideas such as short vistas and walkways disappearing around a corner with later needs for clearly visible garden layouts that accommodate wayfinding and memory.
What do you think? Is Elderyarding® an approach that makes sense to you? Add a comment on this post below.
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