Across the nation, the number of seniors is on the rise. By the year 2030, older adults will actually account for around 20% of the entire U.S. population. And rather than entering retirement communities, more seniors are opting to stay at home for as long as possible, according to AARP. Subsequently, the concept of “aging-in-place” design has grown in popularity over the past several years, giving seniors the opportunity to amend their homes in order to increase their own comfort.
Aging-in-place design involves the implementation of features that can help seniors be more independent and safe in their own houses. Some seniors choose to build brand new homes that integrate these features into the design from the beginning, while others hire builders to make adjustments to existing structures that will help with decreased mobility and balance.
One of the most popular rooms for an aging-in-place treatment? The bathroom.
That’s no surprise, since a recent Houzz survey found that 60% of all homeowners plan to remodel their master bathrooms. But for these seniors, it’s not about improving the aesthetics or adding more storage. Especially high bathroom ceilings of eight feet or more often require additional ventilation to prevent the growth of mold, but most folks who opt for this design are more concerned about the features that will allow them to move around more easily.
Many seniors request the addition of grab bars, which are especially important for using the toilet, tub, and shower. Some want to add entirely new bathrooms on the ground floor to avoid using the stairs. In addition, a lot of seniors want to increase the widths of their doorways throughout the home (which is often necessary when mobility aids come into play). It’s also common to add a ramped entrance or swap out traditional doorknobs for ones with handles.
Extra lighting can also help, says Robert Carroll, co-owner of Baton Rouge-based Carroll Construction.
“When you think about aging-in-place,” he explains, “you think about a lack of mobility. But really, one of the biggest things that can change is vision.”
Fortunately, says Carroll, there are more options for these changes than ever before.
“Nobody wants to feel like they’re living in a nursing home,” he says. “But the design world has really caught up. Companies have designed fixtures and features that are all about fitting into the design of the home rather than standing out.”
It’s not just a passing trend, either. The National Association of Home Builders estimates that more than 70% of homeowners who pursue remodeling projects these days are incorporating features and improvements related to aging.
Tom Ashley Jr., Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist and owner of Expand Inc. in Baton Rouge, explains that while the work can be challenging, improving seniors’ quality of life is a cause he holds dear.
“Having empathy is a big part of doing this right, ” says Ashley. “Sometimes you’re having to create a design to accommodate someone who is suddenly impaired, and it’s important that everyone on board… understands why the design needs to be done this way or that way.”
Ashley went on to explain that these changes won’t break the bank and can make the difference between staying in your home for the foreseeable future.
“There are still an awful lot of homes out there that need to be renovated, and a lot of things can be done without significant extra cost.”
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