A Family Heritage: Remodeling a Whole House for a Family Coping With Dementia
Clients Jim and Grace helped to remodel their daughter’s home and recently moved in. Downsizing, relocating and sharing space with others would be a significant challenge for anyone. However, their situation was made more complex by the fact that Grace has been living with dementia for a number of years. When we sat with the families, they shared their concern about minimizing the impact of this transition on Grace, as one with dementia can have a difficult time adjusting to change. Not just in their environment, but also in their routines.
According to the Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Commission in Virginia, approximately one in eight older adults is affected with Alzheimer’s disease – a number that is expected to triple by 2050.
Our concerns immediately aligned with that of the family members, and we all shared the goal of giving Grace a transition of ease.
The living room and the “Heritage” room, named for the nostalgic items within the space, were the two most familiar rooms in Grace’s previous home. These spaces were measured and mapped out to nearly replicate those rooms on the main floor of their daughter’s home. This was what truly made the design special.
The entrance to Jim and Grace’s master suite is just off of the communal space, easily allowing for both family interaction or privacy. Their Heritage Room includes familiar pieces, such as precious family photos, antique furniture handed down from generation to generation, and other life-long possessions. It is truly a piece of their original residence within their new home. It is a space where Grace can be familiar with her surroundings and be comfortable spending time with her family, children, and grandchildren; or where she can relax in peace and quiet alone.
Without disruption to the kitchen space, the bathroom layout also was designed with a familiar feel. Enhancements were made to make the shower accessible for future caregivers should it become a necessity in Grace’s new home. Added details such as grab bars and a bench were incorporated.
Being on the first floor of the home, Jim and Grace have easy access to the communal kitchen space, safe entry in and out of the house, and ease of interaction with family and friends.
What Are the Possibilities in Your Home?
With aging in place becoming a common part of today’s lifestyle, certified aging in place specialists, such as Craig Durosko, are learning how to make small comforts in the home a life-changing experience.
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Build vs Design Approach Why approach the design with purpose? Often a remodel starts when something breaks, doesn’t work quite right, or you want to improve something (whether it’s a specific function or cosmetics). If you were looking to remodel a kitchen, for instance, from what I refer to as a “build” approach it may…
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