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As the largest generation of the last century approaches their senior years, the aging-in-place philosophy looks to become the next great revolution in housing.
What do today’s baby boomers and Disney’s Peter Pan have in common? According to research done by Doctor Donald Shiner of Mount Saint Vincent University, they both feel as though they will never grow old. Now everyone knows that acting young can keep you feeling young at heart and possibly lead to a longer life, but Dr. Shiner is warning boomers that denying or neglecting the fact that they are aging prevents boomers from making necessary changes to their home and lifestyle.
“1,000 boomers are turning 65 each day as of January 2011 for the next 20 years,” explains Dr. Shiner. “There is no way Canada as a country can take care of that many people. Hospitals and senior housing just won’t have enough space and the country just can’t do it financially.”
This age wave is a ticking time bomb the residential housing industry has been discussing for years. Now that many are aware of the issue, industry leaders are undergoing significant changes to accommodate Canada’s rapidly aging population.
Aging-in-place is the new term, and builders and renovators who understand the issues of an aging population are starting to educate boomers on options available to make life comfortable, safe, and accessible. Aging-in-place design principles can be applied to almost any style of home.
“Builders are now faced with an opportunity to make life better for all clients as they age,” says Dr. Shiner. “Not only can the home have a higher resale value, but the space becomes accessible to seniors, the disabled, children and anyone recovering from an accident.”
Aging-in-place modifications can be as simple as changing the doorframes from 32 inches to 36 inches, or installing a comfort-height toilet with grab bars in the bathroom. The bathroom is an accident-prone space not only for seniors, but also for adults and families, and renovations can be done now to keep people out of the emergency room and safe in their own home.