Along with grab bars (which are frequently mentioned in your book, though none is visible in the pictures), what makes a house suitable for aging?...Colorful, angular... stimulate and challenge... this made me think of crib toys. They're thinking of old people like babies. I found that repulsive. We've thought a lot about moving to a simpler house, which would also be the house where we'd grow old — hopefully, extremely old. (I see that in the discussion, the gerontologist says he's "beginning to think about how [he and his wife are] going to deal with our inevitable aging." But getting old is not inevitable. It's preferable!)
Mr. Rosenfeld: When you mentioned grab bars, it reminded me that most of the homes in the book speak to a Western medical aesthetic, but a few support non-Western ideas about healing. There’s one in particular, Bioscleave, in East Hampton, N.Y., that builds on the idea of reversible destiny: that the home can challenge and stimulate inhabitants to keep them youthful. Everything about that home is colorful. It’s angular. It’s full of intentional surprises and quirks.
I’m glad you mentioned Bioscleave. I wanted to ask about the sloping, textured floors the architects designed to make walking more of an “adventure.” Isn’t that the kind of adventure that can lead to a broken hip?
Mr. Rosenfeld: The house is occupied by a person who lives there part time. A mature person. I haven’t dared ask her age, but I can say that neither of her hips is broken.
What Meade and I have talked about wanting is a completely uncluttered, cleanly modern place. I don't look to the walls and floors for stimulation. I want a place that doesn't distract and bother me while I'm doing what I want to do, like read or talk to somebody.
Bioscleave sounds utterly insulting, like old people are babies. Then I looked it up. My lord! It's like old people are hamsters!
Ridiculous! Hilarious! And who cleans that place? Especially of all the blood.
I'm looking at that word "Bioscleave." "Bios" is the Greek word for life in the sense of one's life, course or way of living, lifetime. "Cleave" is a word that famously has 2 meanings. It's an auto-antonym. It can refer to clinging — let's say, to life — or to separation — which, in the case of life, would refer to death.
Take a look at that Bioscleave again. If they try to take you there... get out. I don't want your Hamster Habitat of Death. And I'm not charmed by your burbling about "non-Western" ideas. I don't want your Bioscleave just like I don't want your acupuncture. I want an ultra-Western ultra-modern house to go with my ultra-Western modern medicine.