I’m 47 and getting close to my “Saga years”. There are signs of age, no hair, a few wrinkles and a dodgy knee but I am still the person I was at 27 and 37. I care about how I look, I care about what I buy, I care about the environment I live in, I have views about the design of everything that I use, from what I eat off, to the transport I use, to the hotels I stay in. In fact my views are getting stronger. As we get older many of us analyze more. Many of us become more discerning, age gives us experience about what is good design, what has been well thought out and what hasn’t.
I may not agree with the Fashion industry’s obsession with youth (especially when I believe women look most beautiful in their 30s and 40s, but that’s another story) but I can understand it in economic terms. Figures prove that spending on fashion is greatest amongst the young and responsibility free. What I don’t understand though is the general lack of great design that goes into housing for the elderly.
My mum is in her 70s, lives on her own in a converted cow shed over a mile from the nearest facilities. She travels extensively (this spring she stayed in a tent in the Masai Mara), she’s still a significant consumer. But there’s one thing that she is adamant she will never “consume” and that’s a “care home”.
There are very few tarnished brands in the world, usually when something gets a bad name there are the skills to put things right. MacDonald’s is the latest brand to start to reverse negative public perception that could have been terminal by offering genuine healthy options and coffees that keep being ranked way higher than Starbucks. Some house builders are responding to public perception of them being “box bashers that deliver rabbit hutches”. When brands don’t respond the public does an Alan Sugar and votes them out… remember Courts the sad furniture store with those cheesy adverts?
Care homes are a tarnished brand. I watched my dear old Pop die in a worthy, but ultimately dull and uninspiring environment. His generation were more accepting and less questioning. My mum is the start of a much more questioning society and my generation is going to take that to another level.
I can totally understand my mum’s plea for me never to put her in a home and my total incomprehension that I would ever live in a care home. Even if I became incapacitated or wheelchair bound I know I wouldn’t resort to sitting in an armchair watching some daytime cookery programme. I’d want to be experimenting with a great new dish in a kitchen with all the facilities that I had come to take for granted in my lovely modern home. I’d do my utmost to still partake in some form of sport. I’d want access to a bike and great cycle routes and if i couldn’t cycle then I’d want a wheelchair like Tania Grey-Thompson. I’d want access to a pool of the latest environmentally friendly cars. I’d want somewhere to exercise my dog. I’d want somewhere to play my soul and funk music LOUD…because inside I’m still dancing and I won’t be changing my preferences to “easy listening” anytime soon. I want a place that is not isolated from wider society. Young people aren’t going to make me feel uneasy and threatened, I am interested where they are going to take the world and I still want to be able to remind them to pick up their litter. I‘d want a place that my grandkids could come to use the great swimming pool, have a game of tennis or boules and to sit in the mini cinema and watch a film on demand and to use the most advanced IT suite they had ever seen. I’d want to cook them veg that I had grown myself and to take some raspberries grown outside my back door down to the park to show them how to play a cover drive.
Maybe my saga years are something to look forward to. I can see a new design project coming on….