According to the National Home Builders Association approximately 19% of new homes will be built for people aged 55 and above in 2007. That is almost one in every five new homes built. Almost half will be in communities designed for the older group. The number of people 65 years or older will double in the next 30 years. According to the association, more than a third of people 55 and older earn less than $25,000 and nearly 25% have household net worth under $50,000.Only 5% of people over 55 move in any given year, and of those, half stay in the same county and a whopping 75% stay in the same state according to the government. Obviously, with many older people having a low net worth and low income, thoughts of retiring to favorite places can only be a dream. In another piece of research it was found that nearly 30% of people between the ages of 55 and 64 have some form of physical ailment.
No matter where retirees choose to live, homebuilders cannot ignore this growing demographic. Boomers like me are fast approaching retirement age but with an attitude like a 40 year old. We don’t see ourselves as old and are not about to retire gracefully. So builders have a dilemma. How do you market a home with features for the aging to a large group of people who don’t see themselves as old? AARP was one of the first organizations to identify a need for a new breed of designer. A training system was setup and designers are certified “aging-in-placeâ€ specialists. Following are some of the ideas now appearing in homes:
Accessibility and Safety Features
- Ground floor bedrooms and bathrooms in two story homes.
- Wider corridors and doorways to allow wheel chair access.
- Open homes with no clear “dining roomâ€ or “living roomâ€ making it easier to move around no matter your physical condition.
- Electric stoves versus gas stoves
- Non slip tiles.
- Low maintenance or maintenance free exteriors.
- Showers you can sit down in.
- Handrails in key locations.
For The More Active Seniors
- Activities in some communities include river rafting and recreational flying.
- Swimming pools and fitness centers.
- Evening and weekend activities to accommodate working elders. (A growing number)
- Home offices for those not intending to “retireâ€ and for both partners, not just one.
- Heating and cooling zones like some cars have.
Tomorrows post is about our favorite retirement house features.