As anyone who’s ever purchased a home can attest, there are dozens of small and large decisions involved, ranging from what style of fixtures to install in the bathroom to how long of a commute to work you can tolerate. But, have you ever stopped to consider that the home choices you make now may affect you years down the road, especially if you are shopping for a home that will carry you through your golden years? It’s a concept known as aging in place.
Aging in place means having the ability to stay in your residence of choice as long as possible as you grow older. It’s a term that’s becoming especially relevant in our society as the population ages. Case in point: Google “aging in place” and 102 million results pop up. In 2013, adults age 65 and older constituted roughly 14 percent of the U.S. population, and will account for an estimated 20 percent by 2050, according to census bureau figures. Studies show that, overwhelmingly, most older adults want to stay in their own homes, even if it means making some modifications.
If you’re shopping for a home that will be relevant not just for today, but for years to come, here are some features to consider:
Universal Design: Originially aimed at creating easily accessible spaces for individuals with physical disabilities, Universal Design has evolved to focus on functional, stylish spaces that make maneuverability easier for anyone, regardless of age, size or ability. Some of Universal Design’s most popular features include single-floor layouts, step-free entries, wide doorways and hallways, grab bars, and counters that are not too low or too high.
Sense of Community: Aging in place is always more fun with friendly people around. Homes located in communities that offer things to do and people to do them with, and are surrounded by conveniences, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, medical care and restaurants, appeal to all.
Low Maintenance: While they may seem like a good idea at the time, a large home with a swimming pool and a big yard to mow probably isn’t the best choice if you plan on staying there long-term. Instead, look for a lower maintenance place that will require less upkeep in the future.
Andy Warren is president of Arizona homebuilder Maracay Homes, a member of the TRI Pointe Group (NYSE:TPH). He serves on the Board of Directors and as an Executive Committee member with the Greater Phoenix Economic Council and is a past board member of the Home Builders Association of Central Arizona. Warren is also a member of Greater Phoenix Leadership and an active member of the Urban Land Institute. For more information about Maracay Homes, please visit www.maracayhomes.com.