The majority of baby boomers are turning 70 in 2017 and by the year 2050, the surviving baby boomers will be over the age of 85 according to the United States Census Bureau.
One of the most popular trends in with this aging generation is being referred to as “Aging in Place,” the trend of adapting your home as you age. For many, growing older in their current home is the most desirable option.
Research shows that just one percent of homes are conducive to aging in place. Contractors are letting us know that this is rapidly becoming a growing business.
The most common home repairs contractors are making to age-proof homes and maximizing its usefulness throughout your life are:
Entrances: Making entrances easier to get in and out of your house with groceries. The aim is for one or more entrances without steps to offer convenience and unlimited access for elderly adults and to reduce the number of steps or step height; increase horizontal step depth for easy side-stepping.
Bathrooms: Designing the bathroom for convenience and to help prevent falls. Consider what a wheelchair might need to get around; make sure the walls can accommodate handlebars, and that the sink, shower and toilet are accessible to people of all ages, heights and mobility.
To go the extra mile, consider installing a heated sink, toilet assistance space, and a no-step shower or bath lift mechanism.
Kitchen: The kitchen is where people tend to invest most renovation dollars. Strive for an open design and varied counter heights or install multilevel or seated food prep areas.
Make storage accessible with pullout shelves and open shelving. Have a good blend of natural and artificial light for aesthetics as well as safety and convenience.
Open design: The layout is popular for many reasons. It allows better flow of family and guests, presents fewer hallways and doors to navigate, offers greater freedom of movement and more flexibility in furniture layout, and makes an interior space feel larger. Sliding walls offer tremendous flexibility in allowing multiple uses for a single room.
Bedrooms: If you don’t have a bedroom on your first floor, consider adding one.
Windows: As we age, we need more light for reading and other tasks. Adding or enlarging windows is a terrific option. Windows connect us to nature and our community and allow people to easily watch their children and pets in the yard. Blinds or draperies offer a way to manage privacy and level of sunlight.
Outdoors: Features such as covered entrances, wraparound decks and planters or container gardens help connect a home to the neighborhood and become natural extensions of the home. A wraparound deck, level with the first floor, allows access to each entrance and fosters a sense of community. Covered entrances prevent water and snow buildup on porches and provide protection for all family members entering and exiting the home in all weather.
Outlets, switches and doorknobs: Place outlets and switches at optimal heights and locations. Consider putting them where they can be reached while seated and by people of varying heights. Light switches that don’t require pinching or grasping will be easier to use. Doors that have lever hardware instead of knobs are easier to manipulate with a palm, closed fist or elbow when hands are full, injured or arthritic.
Lighting: Ensure proper lighting and light switches, particularly in hallways, entryways, and stairs; install soft path lighting for nighttime.
As the population of elderly people increases so will the focus on aging-in-place renovations. The most popular accommodations being made, while minor in many cases, can make any home more comfortable no matter how old the owner may be.