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Universal home design supports aging in place

March 22, 2011
by Charlene Marietti
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Although most seniors want to stay in their homes and remain independent, their homes' design will present serious challenges, say presenters at the Environment for Aging conference held in Atlanta this week. This translates to opportunities for architects, interior designers, and home builders who can remodel, renovate, and build homes without the steps, narrow passages, and other common barriers to daily activities.

The concept of Universal Design, which has long been linked to buildings for disabled individuals, is now well accepted as a strategy to support aging in place. Many seniors have limitations that restrict their activities. According to findings of the AARP study "Fixing to Stay 2000," nearly two in three individuals report having a common mobility or orthopedic condition, but few consider themselves disabled.

Most seniors recognize their existing and/or growing limitations, which are summarized in their two most desired features cited by those who want to age in place: comfort and ease of maintenance.

Fueled by aging boomers, this growth market will not only require professionals who understand the needs of the disabled, but also those of seniors with deteriorating health and/or more traumatic change needs.

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