The A4L buildings typically house first-floor common spaces that are open to neighborhood residents and those living in the housing above.
These common areas include activity spaces, but also might have room for physical therapy as well as neighborhood-friendly services like a restaurant, coffee bar and beauty shop.
The decades ahead will produce an inevitable demographic: enormous numbers of mentally and physically frail older people.
Some will stay at home with families, but many will require the help and assistance generally associated with assisted living or skilled nursing care.
What if there were a housing environment providing peripatetic homecare support at the margin of need?
Might it be possible for services to escalate as they were needed, and be delivered in a 700- to 1,000-square-foot apartment or condominium designed to meet the most up-to-date universal design standards—in short, a home where you could gracefully and independently age in place? The not-so-good news is that so far, the model has been incubated only in the Netherlands. Built in 2006, Rundgraafpark in Veldhoven, Netherlands, is an atrium-style Apartments for Life building that includes 40 condos and 113 units or rental housing, daycare for 20 community residents and three small group clusters for people with dementia. Rundgraafpark's rental housing is formed on two sides of an atrium.
The roof opens automatically, with ventilators that maintain a comfortable temperature in the summer.
Holland’s Apartments for Life (A4L) movement has existed for nearly two decades, with the first A4L project, the Humanitas Bergweg development, situated in downtown Rotterdam.Individuals who range in age and competency from completely independent to extremely dependent may age in place there, in their own dwelling unit, until death.Homecare workers provide scheduled help and assistance—once a day for more independent residents, or four to eight times in 24 hours for frailer residents.Unlike continuing care retirement communities (CCRC) here, which also provide a continuum of care, residents in A4L settings remain in the same unit and services are increased based on need.Some A4L buildings have a robust discretionary meals program, while others provide qualified individuals with prepackaged meals via a government assistance program.This housing type satisfies the desire older frail people might have to age in place, even to the end of life.