aging couple

Builders, take note: Baby Boomers are not only a large and affluent demographic, but they are really fun to work with. (COURTESY PHOTO)

In last week’s Introduction to Aging in Place, we defined the term “Aging in Place” as the concept driven by a large number of the over-65 population to stay in their homes longer, rather than moving to assisted living facilities or long-term care.

To recap, “Aging in Place” design is often interchanged with “Universal Design," “Adaptive Design,” “All Inclusive Design” and “Accessible Design.” It includes designing for those who are planning ahead for the aging process; those who have progressive illnesses; and those who have experienced sudden trauma such as an auto accident that leaves one with long-term rehabilitation or permanent loss of mobility.

Baby Boomers are the largest demographic with Aging in Place design needs. This includes the generation of folks born between 1946-65. Here are some stats with regard to the role Baby Boomers play in this growing trend:

-- According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Baby Boomers in 2015 numbered 82.3 million.

-- Baby Boomers own approximately 50 percent of all homes. (Brown, 2015)

-- The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University in 2016 determined that the 65-and-over population was projected to increase by 31 million over the next two decades.

-- According to a survey by Houzz in 2015, more than half of people 65 and older plan to Age in Place.

-- Baby Boomers have the highest median income of any age category (Short, 2016) and have earned or inherited more money than any previous generation. (Wolff & Gittleman, 2011)

Builders, remodelers and real estate investor (in case you haven’t yet gotten the picture): This is an awesome demographic to cater to! Plus, Baby Boomers are really fun to work with!

Single-level homes and master suites on the first level are becoming in great demand, and the demand will increase as this huge population of Baby Boomers reaches age 65 plus.

The lesson here, even for young people who don’t yet see the need for an “Age in Place” scenario, is that this kind of design will make your home more marketable now and in the future.

Builders and remodelers, having some basic “Universal Design” tricks in your repertoire could make you as a contractor, or your spec house an easy sell, and in high demand. Some simple AIP features could include:

-- Widening doorways for easy wheelchair or walker mobility.

-- Adding low-voltage lighting or dimmers for trips to the facilities at night.

-- Putting blocking behind shower walls and bath walls for future grab bar installation.

-- Planning subfloors and underlayment to allow different types of flooring to meet smoothly at the same height, eliminating the need for bulky thresholds and transition pieces that create hazards for people with mobility challenges.

Another simple feature that can be designed into a new kitchen or bathroom, or retrofitted into an existing space, would be pull -out shelving or fold-out rack systems for access to kitchen equipment and sundries, or toiletries in a bathroom, without having to bend low to access the wayback of a cabinet.

Of course, for those with complex needs and specific physical challenges, CAPS professionals would collaborate with occupational therapists, caregivers, health-care professionals and construction teams.

Coming up next week: Some of the more complex AIP design-build applications and retrofits, and how to prepare for them.

Sally Pollard is a National Association of Home Builders Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS), a Project Manager and Design Consultant at Milford Flooring, and has over 30 years of experience in the industry. Sally is available by appointment for consultation and can be contacted at (603) 356-6031 or sally@milfordflooring.com. Or stop by the Milford Flooring showroom at 179 Routes 16/302, Intervale, NH. Open M-F 7:30-5 and Sat 9-1.

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