Baby boomers are the folks born from 1946 to 1964 and are 81+ million strong in the U.S. They account for 28 percent of the U.S population but more than half of the nation’s purchasing power according to a recent study by the Research Institute for Cooking & Kitchen Intelligence http://www.kitchenintelligence.org/.
Many boomers are choosing to remain in their current homes as they age. Aging in Place means the ability to live in your own home comfortably and safely for as long as possible. As people remodel their homes, they’re including Universal Design products—a design concept that meets the needs of people with varied abilities. It considers people with age-related problems, people who are tall or short, as well as those with various physical or mental impairments. It also acknowledges that abilities change over time.
What Aging in Place DOES NOT mean is that your home renovations have to look institutional! Kitchen and bathrooms typically require the most alternations. Here are some practical, but stylish suggestions to keep that cozy feel.
Bathroom manufacturers are offering comfortable walk-in tubs, roomy seated showers, stylish easy-to-use faucets and higher toilets to create a beautiful, safer and more comfortable bathroom.
- Walk-in tubs come as soaking units with built-in chair height benches and grab bars. Options include hydrotherapy features such as air and whirlpool or pumps for faster draining.
- Walk-in showers are available in several sizes with low to zero thresholds for easy access. There are choices of benches, seats, shelves and grab bars. Most install easily for retro-fit remodels.
- Plumbing fixtures such touch-free faucets and adjustable hand-held shower heads are both available with temperature controls to prevent scalding.
- Toilets heights at 16-17” are taller and safer. Adding a raised toilet seat will add more height.
Universal Design options are plentiful for creating a user-friendly kitchen. Evaluate how your kitchen flows. Eliminate tight spaces and obstructions that may, at some time, become a safety issue.
Cabinets have a lot of flexibility. For easier access, wall cabinets may be installed lower and base cabinets higher. Include pull-out, roll-out or lift shelving for less bending. Soft close door hinges and drawer glides simplify opening and closing. Deep toe kicks on cabinets will accommodate wheel chairs.
Appliances can be installed based on height requirements. Raise a dishwasher or lower microwaves, cooktops and built-in ovens to accommodate your need. Again, cabinets can be adjusted.
Don’t forget lighting! Our eyes change as we age; less light reaches the retina and the sensitivity to glare increases. Uniform ambient (primary source) lighting and good task lighting is essential. Install dimmer switches for easy adjustments.
Baby boomers are the flower children of yesterday who transformed into movers and shakers of change. They continue to influence change and companies are listening to their needs.