Even in midlife, it’s smart to start thinking about where you’ll live when you’re old


As soon as my parents became eligible for Medicare, my siblings and I started nudging them about planning for their future. They were healthy at the time, but we found ourselves looking at their house with a fearful eye. It had lots of steps, narrow door frames and uneven floors, and it was a hundred miles from my sister, their nearest child. We could easily imagine a nightmare unfolding.

Universal Design (UD) is an approach to design that increases the potential for developing a better quality of life for a wide range of individuals. It is a design process that enables and empowers a diverse population by improving human performance, health and wellness, and social participation (Steinfeld and Maisel, 2012). It creates products, systems, and environments to be as usable as possible by as many people as possible regardless of age, ability or situation.