Bermuda is experiencing a growth in the number of seniors and soon-to-be retirees.
This growing group of mature Bermudians will have a significant effect politically and economically in shaping our future.
The personal challenge for each person will be to transition their life activities and environment to meet the goals and needs of enjoying the best that senior years have to offer.
OBMI’s ‘Solution for Seniors’ designers recommend some form of daily exercise.
Regular cardiovascular exercise, such as brisk walking, cycling or swimming, strengthens the heart and muscles and boosts energy and endurance. These are the best forms of exercise for seniors as they are low impact.
Being sedentary also raises the risk of developing serious health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
Playing with children or gardening will provide other ways of incorporating activity into your daily routine. Play golf; it’s very easy to find a golf course in Bermuda.
Many Bermudians live in the home where they have raised their families and secured their best memories to date. Many will be loathe to leave or to downsize to smaller accommodations.
However, the potential of mobility frustrations; aches and pains of sore knees and joints, bad backs, and failing eye sight will challenge the best of us.
The rationale for living as we have done in our spry thirties and forties quickly becomes problematic in our sixties and seventies and beyond.
OBMI and Age Concern have teamed up to investigate ideas and strategies for seniors and soon-to-be seniors.
This includes analyzing their homes and properties to develop an effective plan to enrich the opportunities of the retirement years in familiar surroundings.
‘Solutions for Seniors’ is an OBMI Small Works design and project management programme which assists clients with the future planning of their home environment, making recommendations and introducing new living concepts that will add value to the retirement years.
The fundamental concept is that clients who remain in their homes lead productive and happy retirement years, and at a substantially reduced cost than those who have to be cared for in managed homes and institutions.
OBMI ‘Solutions for Seniors’ designers meet with clients to assess the house and grounds to look out for many of the prime design issues affecting seniors.
The number one concern for seniors is falling and injuries. Redesigning interior furniture layouts and adjusting seating heights may be all that is required.
Stylish handrails strategically positioned can add security while not looking institutional.
Changing the colour palette of walls, architraves and doors also increases visual awareness of room layouts, which is important for visual acuity issues.
Increasing the number of and brightness of lamps and ceiling fixtures are also simple steps that work well for senior living.
Bathrooms are of special interest, with many new and innovative senior-specific fixtures available today.
Toilets with raised ‘comfort’ height seating, with handrails for extra security from falls is a very easy conversion that is a great comfort.
Kitchens also benefit for increased levels of under-counter task lighting, cooking fixtures with big numerals, and taps for sinks featuring lever handles to make life so much easier to manage.
Essentially if you cannot get around your house and enter every room, open every door and drawer with a closed fist, your home is not adequately prepared for some of the most essential of the long-term retirement issues facing seniors.
The garden and great outdoors is also an area in which OBMI ‘Solutions for Seniors’ experts can investigate. Gardening is a lifelong hobby for many, and provides hours of useful and satisfying industry.
OBMI landscape designers will analyze the grades of pathways and steps, lighting and exterior devices, to be sure seniors enjoy their property for as long as they are able.
You can sign up for a free consultation with OBMI’s ‘Solution for Seniors’ designers at the Home Show.
Stop by booth 58 if you are a senior, or plan to be one in the not too distant future.
David O’Beirne, RIBA, ARIAS, MIBA, is the Bermuda director for OBM International. OBM International was founded 75 years ago by Wil Onions and Val Bouchard. It has offices throughout the Caribbean and in Miami, Abu Dhabi, Madrid and Bogota. OBMI provides the following services: Architecture; interior design; project management; landscape architecture; Small Works projects; Solutions for Seniors; LEED and Green Globe compliance. For more information call 278-3550 or see the website at www.obmi.com.