Aging - in-place gets a designer makeover
Misty Harris,Montreal Gazette
The animated movie Monster House is about a predatory home that uses seemingly innocent components — from the rug to the floorboards — to take down anyone who dares enter. Aging baby boomers may soon relate.
The number of seniors requiring assistance is expected to double in the next 30 years, and some 10 million existing homes will need accessibility updating if those Canadians are to age in place.
Fortunately, a shift toward universal design means such renovations no longer require the clinical, bolt-on solutions of the past but rather allow sleek, sexy additions that look more Architectural Digest than Prevention.
“Fashion is finally catching up to function when it comes to the older population,” says Colin Milner, CEO of the International Council on Active Aging. “Not many baby boomers want to have an ugly stainless steel grab-bar in the beautiful, $30,000 bathroom they’ve just redone.”
According to industry data, fully half of Canadian builders intended to add more accessible features to their designs in 2012. That’s up from just 37 per cent in 2006, and 25 per cent a decade earlier.
Milner says the new focus is on making products “ageless,” allowing them to be appreciated across generations. The Apple iPad, he cites as an example, hit pay dirt with older consumers not because it was designed for seniors but because it was designed for anyone.
“It’s high-contrast, easy to read, and easy for anyone to navigate,” says Milner, who believes this trend toward universal design – particularly in homes – is “going to be absolutely massive.”
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