Bringing Families Back Together (With Help From Technology)

The past year has shown a substantial shift in demand for suburban residences and an uptick in home renovation projects, resulting in homeowners reevaluating their home spaces in 2021. Through a virtual panel discussion organized by New England Home Connecticut Magazine, home design and real estate professionals were brought together to discuss the effects the pandemic has had on the industry along with the innovative trends for the future of home design. In this blog, we’ll hear from the following contributors and will discuss the changes they foresee happening when it comes to technology and how it will affect residential construction, design, and development.

Moderator
Tyra Dellacroce | Connecticut Stone

Panelists
Arnold Karp | Karp Associates
Jeff Kaufman | JMKA architects
Chris Barre | Smarthome & Theater Systems

Eldercare has seen a major shift since the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic made its way into our lives early in 2020. While nursing homes have been forced to limit or even prohibit outside visitors for health and safety reasons, more people have begun opening up their homes to their elderly loved ones.

As Arnold Karp of Karp Associates explains in a virtual panel discussion moderated by Tyra Dellacroce of CT Stone, “This has resulted in a re-emergence of the multigenerational household. It is becoming increasingly common to find people sharing homes with their parents, in-laws, and even grandparents to keep them close. As a result, we’ve also begun to see some major changes in residential construction, design, and development trends to accommodate the modern multigenerational household.”

Making Existing Spaces Work For Everybody

As fewer people will be choosing nursing homes and assisted living facilities for their aging loved ones, we’ve seen that homeowners are taking measures to make their existing homes more accommodating and accessible for their elders. Specifically, home designers have seen an increase in the number of people renovating their garage spaces to create comfortable living quarters for their parents, in-laws, or grandparents.

Jeff Kaufman of JMKA Architects explains that “This has really underscored the need for everybody in the home to have their own dedicated and private spaces — and this remains true for aging loved ones who may be moving in. Being able to repurpose an existing space (such as a garage or loft) into comfortable living quarters for an older relative is more important than ever before. This is particularly true when considering that some elders moving into these households may also need space for medical professionals and other caregivers to visit and provide health/wellness services throughout the week.

Greater Focus on Outdoor Space

In instances where renovating or repurposing an existing space may not be feasible for the multigenerational household, many homeowners focus their efforts on creating outdoor retreats that can be enjoyed by every member of the family. These outdoor spaces can provide a retreat from the confines of the house itself while also serving as a space to enjoy some fresh air and sunlight.

The Role of Technology

As more people begin opening up their homes to aging loved ones, professionals like Chris Barre of Smarthome & Theater Systems also see an increased demand for user-friendly technology. “When used properly, technology can make every space in the home more enjoyable for people of all ages. However, poorly implemented technology can make life more difficult for older populations and can be a source of frustration.”

As a result, Chris explains, “We’re seeing that many homeowners are implementing voice recognition technology into the household and particularly into living spaces for aging loved ones. By giving this population the ability to easily control things like lighting and temperature with a simple voice command, there is less confusion and frustration. And of course, the possibilities for this technology are nearly endless.”

At the end of the day, homeowners bringing their aging loved ones into their homes will need to take some time and revisit not only the overall design and layout of their homes but their technology set-ups as well. Keeping elders comfortable will begin with implementing technology that is easy and intuitive for everybody to use.

What Does the Future Hold?

It is not yet fully known how long the nursing home and assisted living industries will be affected by COVID-19. However, it seems fairly safe to say that the multigenerational household is here to stay — at least for a while. Only time will tell the true impact this shift will have on home design trends, but as evidenced here, we’re already seeing a shift towards making homes more inclusive for older generations.

Thinking of updating your home or have a client looking to do so? Contact our natural stone experts at CT Stone to get started.

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