Tech-infused Ohio Airbnb shows seniors how to age in place in style
I don’t know about you, but when it comes to aging, I have a plan. Plan A is I will not grow old. Plan B is that if I have to get old, I’ll fall into swinging.
So, I was heartened to learn that new technology and a cutting-edge designer promise to make aging at home a whole lot easier. According to a recent AARP survey, 77% of people over 50 want to “age in place.” That percentage jumps to 86% among those over 65, which tells me that the older you get, the less appealing the idea of sitting in a nursing home becomes.
“Boomers are especially reluctant to give up their freedom,” said interior designer Lisa Cini, interior design expert and owner of Mosaic Design Studio, of Columbus, Ohio. “Especially after COVID dropped and assisted living centers became places no one could visit or leave, baby boomers are even more determined to preserve their independence.”
It makes their job easier. After 25 years of designing assisted living facilities and remodeling her own Columbus home to accommodate four generations – including two teenagers, her 70-year-old parents and her 92-year-old grandmother with dementia – Cini has channeled its personnel and professional knowledge into a new project.
After her grandmother passed away and the kids left for college and careers, she found a historic mansion for sale. So she transformed it into a nine-bedroom Airbnb designed to accommodate seniors in comfort, safety and style. (I like the style part. If I want to age in place, this place has to look good.)
The Werner House features more than 50 senior-centric technologies, most of which blend invisibly into the beautiful decor. “Some guests stay and never know there’s anything unusual,” she said.
As Cini takes me on a virtual tour, what strikes me most is that nothing about the 10,000+ square foot property screams “this is for seniors!” The technical keys are discreet and practical. In addition to the bedrooms and their adjoining bathrooms, the Airbnb has a ballroom, a fitness spa and a lap pool, a speakeasy, three kitchens and a hall. of cinema and music.
Marketed as an Airbnb with a mission, The Werner House (www.infinite-living.org), which opened in April, aims to subtly market products to those who want to age in place and encourage them to learn about new technologies during their stay that they can then adopt at home. Cini wants to extend the Airbnb concept to the whole country.
Here is a sample of the integrated equipment:
Floors that smell. Five of the suites feature Sole technology with SensFloor by Shaw Floors. The subfloor, which allows any type of flooring to pass over it, has built-in sensors that can detect when someone is falling, compared to when they are just sitting on the floor, and can then send the appropriate alert for assistance. You can also program the floor so that when your feet touch the floor of the bed, the bathroom light comes on.
Anti-noise carpet. In public spaces like the dining room, speakeasy and living room, the carpet has noise cancellation technology. “Many older people have hearing loss,” Cini said. “The carpet absorbs the din, which makes conversations easier.”
Firmer seats. Chair and sofa cushions are made of ultra-dense foam and no seat is lower than 19 inches. Some upholstered club chairs have a nice wooden and brass hanger on the back to hold a folded walker.
Full service bathrooms. Adjustable toilets raise to help guests sit down and lower for ease of use. Toilet paper holders have built-in grab bars and bidet seats have been added to standard toilets to promote hygiene. Adjustable sinks can drop down to wheelchair height, grab bars help people stand and sit, and spa tubs are accessible.
Cabinets that come to you. Smart kitchen cabinets have a mechanism that allows them to detach from the wall and drop down to your level, a boon for those who have difficulty reaching and lifting items from upper cabinets. Once you have what you need, return to the cabinet. The kitchen counters are height adjustable to accommodate both a five-foot wife and her six-foot husband.
“Having a home that adapts to you and protects you shouldn’t be out of the question,” she said.
And now that is no longer the case.
Marni Jameson is the author of six home and lifestyle books, including “Downsizing the Family Home – What to Save, What to Let Go”. Join her at www.marnijameson.com.