Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 64

THE SPARK

Helping
hand

hen I was
a child, I
spent a lot
of time with my maternal grandparents.
They lived on a farm
in eastern Kentucky,
and I loved visiting
them. The farm was
large, and I was able
to run free within its boundaries. However, by
the time I turned 5, my grandparents required
continuous assistance in daily living, but they
didn't want to move from their home.
My grandmother couldn't walk on her
own and required a wheelchair. My grandfather used a cane and could walk only short
distances. Their 1900s farmhouse wasn't
built to support people with mobility issues:
the doorways were narrow, access in and out
of the house required using stairs, and the
layout was such that they had to go up and
down stairs to access the bathroom. Still, they
wanted to stay home-the place where they
had lived for 60 years.
To accommodate their wishes, my mother
and three of her sisters agreed to split care
duties, each taking turns staying with them
while an uncle agreed to run the farm. For the
next eight years, my mother and I spent every
weekend with my grandparents. We strove to
allow them to maintain normalcy to the greatest extent possible while also modifying things
to best work with their restrictions. We worked
with them to make space for their daily activities within the house so they were freer to
move. My grandmother loved puzzles, so we
found furniture that was low and large enough
to allow her to still enjoy that hobby. We also
64

EFAmagazine.com * Summer 2020

added soft lighting so they could better see
while doing puzzles and reading.
I still treasure the time I spent with them
to this day, but it wasn't always easy. They
couldn't afford adding an at-grade bathroom,
so my mother and aunts helped them with
their daily hygiene. A lift wasn't available, so
my mother and aunts had to help my grandmother from her bed to her wheelchair several
times a day. As I watched my mother care for
them, I realized how difficult it was to assist a
person to such an extent.
As I grew up, I continued to think about
the lessons I learned on that farm and the
resources required to help individuals stay
active and free of limitations as they age.
Early in my architectural career in 2006, I
found myself working for American Structurepoint (Indianapolis), where I was given
the chance to start working with senior
care developers and operators. I found my
niche at that point, focusing my attention on
developing spaces where seniors could live

active, well-rounded lives. I've taken all of
the lessons from my grandparents and from
working with seniors in a church environment and applied them to the projects I
design. I strive to make all amenities and
personal areas as accessible as possible
while also providing equipment and technology that assist them in their daily routines.
Once my friend told me that her aunt had
been so unhappy in the community where
she lived that she decided to move to a new
residence-coincidentally, one that I had
designed. My friend's aunt was so happy
with her new home that she couldn't stop
talking about it-her suite, the dining room,
the theater, the food, the care. It all made her
so happy, and all I'd done was just ask myself
what I would want if I were living there.
Throughout my career, I've done my best to
engender equality for seniors and to provide
them the supportive spaces they need to live
happy lives-something I started learning long
ago. EFA

NIEN-KEN ALEC LU

Inspired by the days of assisting
her grandparents in aging at
home, Vanessa Shumate, senior
project architect at American
Structurepoint, found her niche
developing communities where
seniors can live active lives


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Environments for Aging - Summer 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Environments for Aging - Summer 2020

Environments for Aging - Summer 2020
Contents
EFAmagazine.com
Editorial
Show Talk
Bulletin
Photo Tour
Connecting point
In the spotlight
Guiding lights
Company Listing
Category Index
Category Listing
The Spark
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - Environments for Aging - Summer 2020
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - Cover2
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 1
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - Contents
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 3
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - EFAmagazine.com
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 5
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 6
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - Editorial
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - Show Talk
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 9
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - Bulletin
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 11
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 12
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 13
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - Photo Tour
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 15
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 16
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 17
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - Connecting point
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 19
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 20
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 21
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 22
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 23
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 24
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - In the spotlight
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 26
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 27
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 28
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 29
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - Guiding lights
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 31
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 32
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 33
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 34
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 35
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 36
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 37
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - Company Listing
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 39
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 40
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 41
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 42
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Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 48
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 49
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 50
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 51
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 52
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - Category Index
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 54
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - Category Listing
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 56
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 57
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 58
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 59
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 60
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 61
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 62
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - 63
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - The Spark
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - Cover3
Environments for Aging - Summer 2020 - Cover4
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