If you are a community developer and are in the planning stages for a gated retirement community, there are several important things to consider regarding the accessibility of the gates for the elderly residents, their friends and family members, and emergency responders. Mobility problems and health concerns that are part and parcel with elderly residents present issues that may be challenging when it comes to using electric gates. Here are a few things to consider when planning electric gates in retirement communities.
Accessibility for residents
The type of locking and unlocking mechanism should be considered carefully while keeping elderly residents in mind. In a study of people between the ages of 60 and 64, 39.2% of them self-reported that they had functional difficulties due to increased confusion and memory loss during the previous year. This means they may be more apt to lose keys or key cards and forget security codes. For this reason, it is strongly recommended that you incorporate access control panels that use fingerprints to operate the locking/unlocking mechanisms.
Accessibility for friends and family members
The residents will likely want friends and family members to visit. There are several ways to go about handling their accessibility. Those who will visit frequently can gain access with their fingerprints, but occasional visitors will need to be accommodated in a different way. It's a good idea to use a fingerprint access control panel that also has security code capability. However, for safety reasons, the security code should be changed on a regular basis. Your residents will need to get a security code from the front office or a security service each time their infrequent visitors come to the community.
Accessibility for emergency responders
You'll need to consult with the local fire chief to learn what the regulations are for gated communities in your area to allow emergency personnel to gain access. In some areas, gated communities are mandated to provide a separate device for emergency responders to be able to unlock electric gates, such as electric key switch control stations, radio signal identification systems, or lock-box systems. In many areas, however, emergency departments keep keys, access cards, lists of codes, and transmitters for each gated community in their districts. As you can imagine, it can be challenging scouring through to find the appropriate device if there are a large number of gated communities in the district.
Accessibility of community services
People who live in retirement communities often use community services that cater to the elderly, some of which perform in-home services. For example, organizations that deliver meals on a daily basis, services that provide housekeeping and in-home health care, and transportation companies that drive the elderly to appointments will need to have access through the electric gates. If these types of services will be constant and ongoing in your community, you may want to consider incorporating a key-based system into your access control panel.
Accessibility during power outages
Deciding on what type of system will operate the electric gates during power outages is something that should be carefully considered. In Indiana, the elderly in an apartment community were unable to open the electric gates during a power outage. Many of the residents didn't have the strength to manually open the gate. For this reason, you'll need to consider what type of back-up system will power your electric gates, such as solar power, or choose gates that are lightweight and designed to easily open, such as ones with pneumatic mechanisms, which are powered by air.
With all these various accessibility needs in mind, discuss the options that are available through your electric gate installation service when planning your gated retirement community.