The natural effects of age on the human body typically result in muscle loss and limited mobility. According to the U.S. Census, about 10,000 people reach retirement age every day, and 73 million people will be 65 or older by 2030. That means in less than ten years, the second-largest age demographic would benefit from accessible homes.
As everyday people plan for retirement and their golden years, the best time to move into an accessible home might be right now. If you are a Baby Boomer or anticipate mobility limitations, these are things to consider about moving into an accessible home.
What is an Accessible Home?
The federal government passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990 that requires all public buildings to adhere to building codes that provide people who use wheelchairs, walkers, and other mobility devices easy access. The ADA applies only to government and public facilities. Private homes are often retrofitted after a loved one loses mobility.
The Baby Boomer trend has not gone unnoticed by developers and contractors in recent years. Residential communities exclusively for people 55 and 65 and older have become lucrative investments. Contractors have also become open to new construction homes that meet many of the ADA guidelines. Purchasing and moving into an existing ADA-compliant home or planning a new one resolves an issue that will impact us all. We will all get older, and standard building designs can negatively impact our bodies.
How Would Moving into an Accessible Home Differ?
Homebuyers are sometimes turned off by the bulky wheelchair ramps in front of houses that are for sale. Typically, retrofitting does not give a home enhanced curbside appeal. But houses built with an eye toward accessibility integrate ADA elements into the design. These are ADA-compliant aspects of a property that look good and may add value.
- Open Floor Plans: Merging the kitchen, living, and dining room into vast open living space has been a hot-trending floor plan for decades. This layout provides accessible benefits by its very nature. It eliminates narrow doorways and thresholds considered impediments to people who use wheelchairs and walkers.
- Attached Garages: One of the ways ADA-compliant homes can overcome awkward wheelchair ramps is by including an attached garage. They allow people with physical limitations to exit vehicles in a controlled space and enter through a side door. Building codes generally require a garage floor to be about six inches lower than the primary living space. Negotiating that height won’t need a big ramp. A comprehensive demographic of people also find attached garage beneficial for unloading groceries or managing small children.
- Bathrooms: ADA-compliant bathrooms are typically more spacious and include walk-in showers, among other amenities. Walk-in showers are another trendy home design element that adds value and a leisure experience.
- Countertops: Homes with accessibility in mind install countertops at a slightly different height than standard construction. They are usually positioned between 24-36 inches without cabinets below. This offers clearance underneath for mobility devices. The countertop height also tends to deliver improved ergonomics. Preparing meals or folding laundry at ADA height puts less strain on your back.
Like all of us, Baby Boomers will come to a point in life when the body doesn’t cooperate. By moving into an accessible home now, you can avoid the cost and cumbersome look of retrofitting later.
Making the Move
If you are planning your move, we can help. Contact us today to learn about our full-service moving options.