Why should home builders focus on addressing the needs of aging populations?

More people want to age in place and stay in their homes. Learn how to rethink structures by addressing accessibility needs. Research from Harvard’s Joint Center shows that one in three homeowners in the U.S. is over the age of 65. Of this number, which is made up of over 25 million households, 44 percent require accessibility updates in their homes to continue living there.

And this population does prefer to age in place. A recent AARP survey revealed that three in four adults over age 50 desire to stay in their homes and communities as they get older.

For home builders, this means that accommodating for these needs in projects can set you apart from other home builders and help increase profits.

Here is an overview of common considerations for an aging population

An accessible floorplan

Having the master bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen all on the same floor is preferable to most aging residents. Because arthritis and other mobility conditions develop later in life, it becomes more difficult to climb stairs every day just to get to the bedroom.

This is an important consideration when designing multigeneration homes as well. Make sure that if an elderly parent or grandparent will be living with a family, that they have first-floor access to everything they could need. Also ensure that from room to room, there aren’t steps in the way.

Adaptations for mobility equipment

Many elderly residents will need walkers or wheelchairs for mobility. This means that hallways and doorways need to be spacious enough to accommodate this equipment easily and comfortably. Create wider doorways in case this is a big consideration for home buyers.

The National Association of Home Builders says that entryways should have at least 32 inches of clear width, requiring a 36-inch door.

Another effect of these mobility enhancers is that the elderly won’t be able to climb stairs. Aside from making everything accessible on the ground floor, make sure there’s a ramp to get in and out of the home instead of stairs, even if it’s just one or two.

Slip-and-fall accidents

Fall accidents are the leading cause of fatal injury among older adults, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Their research also shows that one in four Americans over age 65 falls each year, and every 11 seconds, an aging adult is treated in the ER for a fall.

Install flooring that will help prevent these accidents, such as slip-resistant flooring. This could be carpet or non-slip vinyl or tile. These harder surfaces are especially helpful in the bathroom and kitchen, where flooring is likely to become wet.

Also including add-ons like railings throughout the home can help residents avoid falls, in the bathroom as wall supports, but also hallways, entryways, and other areas they will walk through regularly.

Ample lighting

Reduced visibility is another consideration for the aging population. It’s important to design lighting in hallways, showers, and other darker areas of the home to ensure that residents will be able to see everything and avoid falls or missteps that could lead to injuries. And if they will be using a walker or wheelchair around the home, it’s important for them to be able to see and thus avoid small objects that could be on the floor or changes in flooring type and height from room to room.

In the outdoor spaces that lead to the home, also install lighting that could be movement-sensing so that entryways are lit up at night. Light switches need to be easily accessible upon entry to the home or to individual rooms as well.

Lower counters and appliances

Additional considerations may need to be made if kitchen and other appliances need to be accessible to those in a wheelchair. This could be provided with adjustable height counters or removable base cabinets. Cabinetry may need to be at least three inches lower than the standard height.

Planning for the future

If an elderly person is on his or her own in the home, it may be a good idea to provide additional living space or an apartment if they will need a caregiver or family member to live with them in the future. This is another important consideration for home builders—create scenarios such as this that will make residents feel like they have ample options to address future needs as they age.

As a home builder, it’s important to keep an eye on the current trends in order to maintain a profitable business. Knowing what people want in a home will help you plan and make the wisest investments for your business.

No Boundaries Advisors can work with you to create more solutions to accommodate the needs of aging populations while maximizing profits. To learn more about the financial and support services we offer, get in touch with our team today.

Leave a Comment