The Richmond Times Dispatch’s Carol Hazard writes on the growing trend among baby boomers: aging in place. According to the National Association of Home Builders, home modifications are the fastest-growing segment in residential remodeling.
To look at how one woman is changing her home, Hazard interviewed Donna Edgerton, who had an elevator shaft installed, which she will eventually turn it into an actual elevator. Furthermore, she added an open-plan kitchen and family room. She also widened the doors throughout the home to at least 3 feet to accommodate a wheelchair and a walker, along with choosing drawers over cabinets in her kitchen to better mange things around her home. Edgerton's home renovation now includes doors and faucet features with lever handles rather than knobs, along with a bathroom that has a built-in bench, sinks that allow for a wheelchair, and tilted mirrors.
Aging in place has allowed baby boomers to not move, continue to enjoy their neighborhoods and communities, and enjoy the new amenities of their homes.
As the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports:
In the Richmond area, the number of people ages 65 and older will outnumber the school-age population for the first time in history over the next 15 years, according to a 2015 report by the Greater Richmond Age Wave, a collaboration of public and private organizations working to prepare for the region’s growing aging population.
By 2040, the number of people 85 and older (40,541) in the area will have more than quadrupled since 2000, according to the report.
“One of the biggest challenges over the next decade is how we will accommodate the growing senior population and make sure the houses they live in and the housing choices they make will be suitable for their changing needs,” said Bob Adams, executive director of Virginia Accessible Housing Solutions, whose EasyLiving Home program is designed to encourage builders to include accessibility features in home design and construction.
The problem is particularly acute in rural areas, as young people leave for urban areas and the number of senior households increases, Adams said.
“The number of seniors who live alone is growing dramatically in these areas,” he said, “and they are more susceptible to being isolated.”