In the next ten years, the Baby Boomers – representing over 25% of the U.S. population – will have reached retirement age. As a new generation gets ready for retire
ment, we are seeing this demographic influencing senior living design trends. Accessibly for seniors is of great concern for every generation, but will become even more important as senior living communities expand and refurbish their communities to serve a much larger demographic, and housing developers will respond in kind.
According to a 2013 study by the AARP, most seniors would prefer to age in place. However, many find that they need to downsize, both for financial reasons and a need for a lower maintenance lifestyle as one ages. Whether aging in place or moving to senior living communities, this upcoming group of retirees is spurring great changes in home design in all areas.
Some of these design trends include:
Expanded light sources, including outdoor lighting. As we age, our eyesight tends to become poorer. This is why more homes and senior communities include multiple interior light sources and extensive outdoor lighting, especially in areas like stairwells and entryways. Older homes tend to have fewer light sources and features – a definite drawback if you are planning to stay in an older home.
Increased accessibility. Entryways into the residence and into all rooms should be wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs. Though accessibility legislation requires this in many newer buildings, older homes tend to have narrower entryways. Thresholds – that little step one often must navigate to get into and out of one’s residence – are also being removed all together to increase accessibility for those with limited mobility.
Fewer throw rugs and clutter, especially in bathrooms and entryways. The removal of obstacles for mobility is a common trend, which means that fewer throw rugs and area rugs are being used throughout senior living spaces. Even when secured in place, many seniors find it’s simply easier and safer to remove them all together. Additionally, other types of décor – such as vases, bulky furniture, and other decorative objects displayed on low shelves – are also out, as they make it more difficult to navigate spaces.
More handrails and grab bars. Handrails are a necessary safety feature as one ages, but more homes and communities are ensuring that handrails are now installed on both sides of stairwells instead of just one. Many are also installing grab bars and grips in showers and near toilets in newer homes, not just senior living communities.
What other design trends do you think America’s aging population will inspire in the next decade?