June is Home Safety Month! As we look at home safety, it’s important to note that the shift in age demographics over the next 20 years is going to require that homes adapt to the needs of an aging population. By 2030, over 72 million Baby Boomers will be 65 or older, a whopping 20% of the US population. That’s twice the number of seniors today.
The majority of homes are not well suited for an aging population. Think about the past 30 years of home trends: 2 story homes, a “bigger is better” mentality, large Jacuzzi tubs and small showers, high-maintenance materials, towering wall cabinets, formal rooms sectioned off from one another. This may be fine for a young able-bodied adult, but the mobility challenges these homes present to an injured, aging, or disabled person can be overwhelming. A study by the Center for Housing Policy concluded that seniors will “soon face a severe shortage of affordable housing that meets their physical and social needs”.
Studies show that 90% of seniors and the Boomers that follow want to age in place, yet “only 20% have done anything about it” by adapting their home environment to better accommodate their physical needs according to Stephen Melman, Director of Economic Services at the National Association of Home Builders.
If aging in place is preferred, and current housing doesn’t meet their needs, the solution is for people to modify their homes so that they can fully utilize the space, living safely and independently at home. This month, Homecare Advocate is going to explore some key areas of the home for seniors and boomers to assess and explore to help them age in place, utilizing universal design features. What is universal design? Simply put, it’s good design that works well for all, regardless of height or ability level.
Tune in next week as we begin our series on transforming kitchens for an aging population.