Real-Life Story–Strategies for Independent Living, LLC.
Aging in place can be easy if you choose the right place and plan ahead for future needs. Robert (Bob) and Fran Randolph have done both.
The Randolphs live in a spacious condo in the Kentlands neighborhood of Gaithersburg, a welcoming community that is becoming part of the nationwide Village Movement. They have also remodeled their condo to make it more accessible, focusing particularly on a universally designed master bathroom that is both beautiful and functional.
Bob, who has a Ph.D. in Russian History, served as the executive director of a research organization prior to retiring on disability due to his advancing multiple sclerosis (MS). He now volunteers his time for the Boy Scouts and serves on Kentland’s community board.
With a Dr.P.H. in public health, Fran spent most of her professional career working in the mental health field and recently retired from a federal agency. Retiring has given her time to focus on other interests. Fran now serves as an executive life coach, helping individuals through major life transitions, including retirement. She is also leading the volunteer-based effort in Kentlands to create a village.
“We are actively working to create a village in Kentlands,” Fran explained. “While our model is similar to the national Village Movement, we have expanded our target population to include all ages.” The Village Movement encourages neighbors to join together to provide various services, so members can live comfortably and age in place. While most villages are limited to those 50+, Kentlands’ model will include residents of all ages.
While working to continually improve her community, Fran has also dedicated her time to improving her own living space. During a presentation by the MS Society on making homes more accessible, Fran and Bob met Stephen Hage, a Certified Aging in Place specialist and owner of Strategies for Independent Living, LLC. After consulting with a number of builders and designers, the Randolphs decided to work with Strategies to remodel their master bathroom.
“Stephen talked to my husband about his current needs and really developed a rapport with him,” Fran recalled. “He took the time to understand what Bob needed, as opposed to telling him what he needed, and he was incredibly supportive and never aggressive.”
The completely remodeled bathroom is based on the concepts of universal design, which calls for approaches that are inherently accessible for older adults, people with disabilities, and people without disabilities. The bathroom now includes lots of accessible counter space around the sink, as well as storage space around the toilet, to accommodate the medical supplies Bob needs. One of the sinks is designed so a wheelchair can roll underneath. Meanwhile, the shower is double width and includes handheld attachments that are automatically adjusted for temperature.
“Our bathroom is just gorgeous, and it is really functional,” Fran said. “The previous designs we saw from other firms were so unattractive, so medicinal.”
Both Fran and Bob are thrilled with the finished bathroom, as well as the remodeling process. “Stephen and his team were always great. They kept us updated, and they worked really hard to minimize any inconveniences,” Fran concluded.
Now the Randolphs are enjoying their new space, as they age in place in a world-class community they are helping to improve.