We have all heard the headlines about the first baby boomers turning 65 this year, which means retirement is looming on the horizon. One of the big issues that the housing industry now faces is creating homes that will support seniors who want to “age in place”, or live independently in their own home as they grow older. And by the year 2020 it is anticipated that the over 60 set will make up 23 percent of the St. Louis population.
To respond to the growing, aging population there are initiatives around the country, and here in St. Louis, to support the increasing number of people who are anticipated to live in their home as opposed to assisted living and other retirement communities. So what exactly is aging in place?
Based on Universal Design and Accessibility principles, aging in place is impacting the way that home design professionals are creating and remodeling homes by creating spaces that anticipate and accommodate the changing needs of seniors. Key components to designing for aging in place are really rooted in best design practices that make homes places for people of all abilities. The best thing about universal design is that it creates beautiful spaces that can be used by anyone, for many, many years.
Some of the key principles when designing for aging in place include:
- Building design should take into account access for people of all abilities. In homes this means
- Wider hallways
- Wheelchair accessible pathways through rooms
- Variable counter heights
- Bathrooms on the first floor
- Wheelchair and walker accessible entrances and passages
- The surrounding community must be accessible for residents. Offering
- Accessible and affordable transportation
- Accessible and inclusive businesses and pathways
- Provide opportunities for community involvement
- Access to health care and support resources
Working with a St. Louis home builder and architect team well versed in the principles of universal design and accessibility is one of the best ways to remodel or build a home to ensure aging in place is a viable solution. By adhering to best practices that meet all abilities, a beautiful home becomes a much more functional home that will last a lifetime.
There is a full 28-page report compiled about aging in place in the St. Louis region and workshop that is available through the Aging in Place Initiative website.