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Developing a Cost Comparison Tool for Planning Ahead to Age in a Home

Irene Winifred Eno Grant Research Project

Full Title: Developing a Cost Comparison Tool for Planning Ahead to Age in a Home Designed to the Standards of Universal Design and Accessibility vs. Moving Into an Assisted Living Facility
Researcher: Lisa Bonneville, FASID, NCIDQ
Bonneville Design

As the last of the population segment known as the Baby Boomers reaches retirement age, increased attention has been directed to the choices people make about lifestyle, about comfortable, healthy, and safe environments in which to live their lives to the fullest, and about financing those choices through an unpredictable life span. Coupled with a rise in multi-generational households, it becomes increasingly necessary for designers to lead the movement toward new thinking on the part of homeowners by providing hard data to the financial decision-makers that highlights the cost comparisons between aging at home and relocating to a facility designed for the elderly.

What is missing is a tool that analyzes the full spectrum of financial considerations between remaining in a home that has been designed to the standards of Universal Design and moving into a for-profit segregated facility where the household tasks of daily living are removed, personal space for artifacts is limited, and personal lifestyle is revised to group lifestyle. Creating a tool that establishes cost comparisons, through research and inquiry, of the same personal services, the same attributes of the physical environment, the same social interaction, and the same independence will establish an analytical argument for the value of residential interior design services that enable the choice to “just stay at home.” 

Purpose of the Research 
  1.  Introduce an evidence-based protocol that informs interior designers as they assist clients in taking a closer look at the real cost comparisons between aging at home and aging at an assisted living facility;
  2. Provide a worksheet that helps clarify, in simple to understand terms, the price implicit in these two living choices.

Data for the cost comparisons was gathered and assembled through

  • A series of interviews with:
  1. Construction team members experienced in remodeling homes to the standards of Universal Design and accessibility;
  2. Product suppliers, vendors, and fabricators; 
  3. City and neighborhood planners and community social services providers;
  4. Assisted living facilities and home healthcare providers
  • The Assisted Living Association membership directory (available upon request in any state) for individual facility locations and rental fees.

*Note: All data is specific to Massachusetts and computed into average costs to be updated periodically.

Researcher Bio

Lisa Bonneville, FASID, NCIDQ, is an award winning interior designer who has created lifelong living environments for hundreds of clients on residential, corporate, healthcare, and retail projects for over 30 years. Through her work, she applies the standards of accessibility and Universal Design and fervently believes that incorporating connections to nature in living environments is life affirming and sustains good health. She has long served her profession and her community with a passion for improving lives through the power of design. She serves on the Advisory Board of the Massachusetts Interior Design Coalition (MIDC), is a charter member of the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) Advisory Committee for her town of Manchester, Massachusetts, served for seven years on the National Fire Protection Assoc. (NFPA) Technical Committee for Furnishings and Contents, held the office of president of the New England ASID chapter board, served as a member of the ASID National Board of Directors, and chaired numerous national committees. She chaired the board of trustees of the Boston Architectural College as the first woman and non-architect in its 120-year history, was named a 2006 Small Business Person of the Year by the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce, and was inducted that same year in the ASID College of Fellows. She was inducted into the 2008 New England Design Hall of Fame, has employed and mentored numerous interior design students, and delivered Meals on Wheels to shut-ins for 18 years while becoming acutely aware of the housing needs of the elderly. Today, Ms. Bonneville directs her organizational and design expertise toward creating an accessible world for all people.