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IBS 2015: Preparing for Aging-in-Place Business

Senior citizens make up the fastest growing population in the United States. In fact, more than 80 million Baby Boomers will retire in the next 25 years, said Wanda Gozdz, founder and president of Golden Age Living, a training and consulting company based in Hutchinson Island, Florida, during an educational program at the International Builders’ Show (IBS) in Las Vegas.

This reality presents an opportunity for home improvement professionals to expand their businesses and include services to help retirees, seniors and their families adapt or change their living environments to ensure safety and convenience. 

Understand the situation

Seniors today are retiring later and living longer, and they want to live in their homes as long as possible while remaining close to their families. Many of them seek to reinvent themselves and change their lifestyles in order to stay independent.

Retirees typically concentrate on their passions during this process; therefore, their homes must be transformed to suit those activities. A focus on improving overall quality of life and making sure all visiting family members are comfortable inside their homes, furthermore, proves essential in winning over seniors.

The term “forever home” has become a better description for this transition than aging-in-place because a house potentially must be an accessible dwelling for three different generations, not just retirees or seniors.

Examine the possibilities

The kitchen is the center of the home and often the primary family gathering place, so it needs to be functional above all else. Incorporating ergonomic design concepts such as different counter heights decreases the risk of injury in the long run, and considerations about traffic flow guarantee the space is comfortable and easy to use for everyone.

Human eyesight weakens once people turn 40, so appropriate lighting is important when planning a forever home. Corneas begin to turn yellow around this age, which makes incandescent lighting less effective, said Gozdz, a certified aging-in-place specialist (CAPS) and instructor for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). She recommends the utilization of more blue light, i.e. LED lighting.

The allotted space for a bathroom is usually limited, which can make it difficult for the design to be accessible and safe for everyone. Toilet height represents a major consideration because a wide range of ages will be using it. Barrier-free, walk-in showers are more practical than bathtubs, and features such as grab bars promote increased safety.

Tackle the education

The ultimate goal for home improvement professionals when creating a forever home is to enhance the “visit-ability” of a house. Pursuing a CAPS designation allows contractors to learn the technical, business management and customer service skills that are critical for competing in the fastest growing segment of the residential remodeling industry.

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