How to Build for Aging in Place

Why developers should place more emphasis on building homes for aging residents and multigenerational living.

2 minute read

October 3, 2023, 9:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Close-up of elderly person walking inside home leaning on walker.

Halfpoint / Adobe Stock

“Come 2034, there will be more adults age 65 and older than children, according to U.S. Census Bureau projections,” writes Lydia Lee in Builder Online. And according to an AARP survey, roughly 90 percent of those over 65 would prefer to stay in their current homes or communities as they age.

This has major implications for the building industry, Lee writes, as “very little of the current housing stock is designed for those with mobility challenges,” and no legal requirements like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which applies to public spaces and businesses, exists for homes.

According to a 2020 report from the U.S. Census Bureau, just one in 10 American homes are ‘aging-ready.’ “These aging-ready homes address the two core needs—single-floor living and bathroom accessibility—by providing a zero-step entry, a first-floor bedroom, and a full first-floor bathroom with at least one accessibility feature.”

A movement based around a new term, ‘visitability,’ mandated in some parts of the United States, including Pima County, Arizona and Vermont, seeks to address these issues by calling on builders to make all new homes more easily accessible with flush thresholds, ground-floor doorways with minimum clearance for wheelchairs, and ground-floor bathrooms large enough for wheelchairs. “Another key idea behind the term is that people should be able to visit others easily—that our social lives shouldn’t be impeded by mobility issues.”

Advocates say aging in place also applies to the broader community outside a person’s home. Some communities aimed at seniors ensure that shopping, social destinations, and other amenities are within walking distance, with lots of places to sit and shade trees to protect people from heat.

Monday, September 18, 2023 in Builder Online

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