Lifetime Homes, universal and transgenerational design, along with extra-care housing and assisted living, appear to offer dwelling places sufficiently flexible and adaptable to support the everyday lives of older people. In this chapter, the author takes a critical view of the underpinning issue of whether it is possible to design a home for life. The discussion draws on a number of studies that have aimed to understand how older people relate to their built environments, whether these are ‘special’ or ‘ordinary’ domestic homes. Considering aspects of the home environment that older people appear to regard as essential, the author explores resistance to specially designed environments and asks whether and how the notion of lifetime homes can become more than an ideal.
This chapter discusses the domestic kitchen in the lives of older people whose ages range across four decades and who were born between 1919 and 1948. They were living in various types of housing from detached to terraced; from maisonette to flat; from mainstream to supportive. By looking at past experiences of the kitchen across the life course gendered and generational differences are seen that contribute to kitchen living in the 21st century. Examining use of the most recent kitchen shows how biopsychosocial factors come together with design and on-going adaptation being both enabling and disabling. The kitchen is seen as a mainstay of the home environment and in later life central to maintaining personal autonomy