If you like this post, please share:

If you liked this post, please share:

Universal kitchen designed by Cynthia Leibrock.

I'm a big fan of universal design. So when an email from Cynthia Leibrock, announcing her Harvard program this summer hit my box this week, it got me thinking about it again.

This year Leibrock and Mary Jo Petersen are presenting the benefits of integrating universal design into all residential projects, not just those for older and disabled people.  They believe that universal design can improve the quality of life, increasing open space, offering better lighting, and improving acoustics.

"We are emphasizing the proactive side of universal design showing how it can motivate clients to a lifestyle that actually prevents disease, disability, and premature aging," wrote Leibrock.

Their day-long program on July 24 addresses the current housing options available to older adults and presents a housing model that suggests people can truly age in place without moving.

I don't know Mary Jo, but Leibrock is an engaging presenter and her latest book, Design Details for Health is chock-full of universal design ideas and checklists for both homes and healthcare facilities. So, this promises to be a great program.

But, is aging in place right for everybody?  Many of us will want to move from our current homes -- because they are too big, require too much maintenance, have too many levels/stairs, etc.

What Leibrock and Petersen are advocating is not only important for those their 60s and 70s who want to age in place, but also for older people looking for their next home -- whether it be stand alone house, condo, apartment; or a dwelling in a continuing care retirement community or assisted living facility.

It's also important for younger people who are renovating existing or building new homes. And for those who are designing and building those homes -- as well as those who are designing and building healthcare facilities.

Universal design is truly universal -- not only for people of all ages and abilities, but for any type of building or home.

(If you want to know more about Leibrock's philosophy, check out this video she made a few years ago)

P.S.  Please do me a favor -- if you liked this post and like this blog, please share it with others by sending them the link and/or post it on your Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook, etc.  Also, don't forget to subscribe, so you'll get emails when new content is posted.  Thanks!

Publishing Partner

McMRpt2018_ Logo360_cmjn

Leave a comment


11 years ago

Could not agree more! Universal design is for all! We will participate at the Harvard session and are looking to learning insights from these two experts.

Sara Marberry

11 years ago

Thanks for the comment, Bonnie! I hope the program meets your expectations.

Ruzica Bozovic Stamenovic

11 years ago

Can We Truly Age in Place
Can We Age in a Place We Truly Want To Be

With generations of cosmopolitan nomadic urbanites getting older this is the question to look at.
P.S. Many thanks for your Linkedin post that led to here!

Sara Marberry

11 years ago

You are exactly right, Ruzica. That is the question.

Bonnie O'Connor

11 years ago

6 years ago we renovated our beach cottage for full-time and long-term living. Because we have disabled parents, family members, and friends, we were aware of many of these issues, and took them into account in our re-building. All doors are wheelchair-width; all door handles can be operated with an elbow or a hand lacking strength and grip; the main bath is large and open and the shower is curb-less, has bars, and is large enough for a person in a wheelchair and an attendant, etc. We really wanted to add many universal design features in kitchen and baths as well as elsewhere, but that would have nearly doubled the cost of our renovation. We don't just need universal design – We need AFFORDABLE universal design.

(BTW, the same was true for green building materials...)

Sara Marberry

11 years ago

You are so right, Bonnie. Cost is a barrier for many, even those who can afford to spend a little extra. Four years ago, when my father was working with a builder who was constructing the condo he and my mom were moving into from their home of 20 years, I told him about all this stuff. His response? My builder wouldn't do any of that. Plus it would significantly add to the cost.

Sara Marberry_013-Retouched-New copy

What's my story? I'm a healthcare and senior living design knowledge expert who writes and speaks frequently about trends and issues affecting these two industries. I'm also a strategic marketing consultant and content creator, working with companies and organizations who want to improve the quality of healthcare and senior living through the design of the physical environment. You can reach me at .

Subscribe to My Blog!


Contact Me

Copyright 2024 © All Rights Reserved | Terms & Conditions