I have been doing lots of research related to design for those who want to remain comfortable and safe in their homes as they age and have discovered some fascinating facts about home buyers and remodelers in the Baby Boomer Age group and older.
My information comes from the AARP study done in 2003. It said that basically more than four in five Americans 45 years of age and older would like to remain in their homes for as long as possible. The National Association of Home Builders has a checklist of suggested areas that could create safety hazards. It is a great checklist. There is also a report by the Mature Life Institute that summarizes a survey of homeowners in the 55+ age group and what they are looking for in purchasing a home.
Not surprisingly, buyers in this age group are short-sited and not really planning for the future. This may be due to a lack of knowledge about what to expect as we age. Homeowners in the 55+ age group are looking for high speed internet access and energy efficient appliances. While these are great things (and necessary), there are other considerations that homeowners should consider for safety and comfort.
Items such as wider doorways, lower upper kitchen cabinets and lower cabinets that lift out or have roll-outs, lever door handles, multiple height work surfaces and non-slip flooring should all be considered as necessities, not just extras or add-ons.
It is time to start planning ahead so that aging in place or universal design is a norm, not a special situation. Be pro-active and plan for the future so that you will be comfortable and safe in your home not just now but at any age. If you are remodeling or building, find a designer who can help you plan ahead and incorporate small but necessary elements so you are not stuck in a home that is potentially dangerous or requires expensive changes later. It is usually easier and more cost effective incorporating accessibility design from the beginning rather than retrofitting. If you have any questions or comments, please let me know. Thanks for reading and take care.