Monroe, LA. Population 47,702. That is not where I pictured myself - ever. Yet, in 2020, when it became obvious that my 85- and 87-year-old in-laws needed extra support, we moved. We bought a house, and they moved in with us while the detached garage was being rebuilt into their own space. Preserving their sense of independence was paramount. That meant accessibility, visitability, and safety were at the top of our list.
It was not about compliance with accessibility standards but quality of life, independence, and human dignity. That - to me - is what universal design is all about.
Nothing about their space screams ADA or aging in place; it just works for them as it would for anyone with a kid in tow, a broken foot, early signs of cognitive decline, or simply an aching body. It also works for us. We know they can safely take a bath and that they won't burn themselves on the stove if they accidentally leave it on.
I may not always be in love with the city, but I love seeing my mother-in-law attend to her busy schedule and my father-in-law grill for Sunday family dinners on their front porch.
It speaks to the power of what designers and architects do. It speaks to what matters and the power of Change by Design.
As you go on with your day, I hope the thought lingers that what you do matters on a deeply personal level. Here is to you and the difference you make in people's lives, to their good health and wellbeing. 🙏