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Fixing To Stay

October 29, 2013

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Both newly built houses and existing dwellings will present mobility challenges for Baby Boomers and members of their families as they age, according to an AARP survey released earlier this year. New-home builders and remodelers face a number of challenges as the residential construction industry prepares to meet the needs of a segment that owned 43 percent of all homes in this country in 1999 and roughly 25 percent of the population of the housing market in 2010.

As they enter a new stage of life, Baby Boomers-the generation born between 1946 and 1964-want to spend as much time as possible in their own homes, according to the AARP survey, “Fixing To Stay: A National Survey of Housing and Home Modification Issues.”

The survey also indicates that Baby Boomers and their families are already having problems getting around their houses. Eighty percent of survey participants report that they or a member of their household have difficulty getting around their home. Many believe that home modifications will allow them or another household member to remain in their home longer. But although they favor “aging in place,” many in this age group would consider moving to a new house with enhanced features to help them live comfortably, safely, and independently.

The National Association of Home Builders is working to craft solutions to the challenges of America’s changing demographics through the NAHB Research Center, the association’s not-for-profit research arm. In its nearly 40 years of service to the home building industry, the Research Center has provided product research and building process improvements that have been widely adopted by home builders in the United States. Through testing and certification services, the NAHB Research Center seal is recognized throughout the world as a mark of product quality and an assurance of product performance.

The NAHB Research Center launched the National Center for Seniors’ Housing Research, which is funded by the U.S. Administration on Aging with the support of NAHB and the AARP, in May 2000. The underlying goal of all work coming out of the Seniors’ Housing Research program is to enable all Americans to age in place comfortably, safely, and independently in their own homes regardless of income or ability level.

The National Center for Seniors’ Housing Research has several industry-enhancing activities planned to help achieve this goal:

  • A Seniors’ Housing Symposium, co-sponsored by NAHB, that will focus on the latest information and advances on building, remodeling, and designing for the aging population
  • Educational programs for builders and remodelers at the annual Seniors’ Housing Show convention and exposition
  • Building industry roundtables that explore how to address current and future needs of America’s aging population; the housing requirements particular to older women and the multicultural community; and proposals such as certification of products for the mature market
  • “Aging in Place: A Smart-Aging Residential Design Competition for Students,” which is a long-term effort to get the ‘aging-in-place’ concept incorporated into the curriculum of college and university programs that deal with building, construction, and design
  • A contractor standards program, with qualification criteria developed with NAHB, local and state home builder associations and AARP, that increases industry awareness of the needs of older homeowners

Americans want to remain a part of the communities where they have raised children, made friends, and joined churches. As the Baby Boomers begin to require new homes or renovations to existing homes with age-appropriate assistance devices, the demand for new seniors’ housing options will continue to grow. The work of the National Center for Seniors’ Housing Research will help prepare future generations of builders, remodelors, architects, and others involved in the residential construction industry to meet the needs of America’s aging population and ensure that we have the housing options we want and need throughout our lives.

If you, or someone in your family, needs modifications to remain safely or comfortably in the home, call The Greater San Antonio Builders Association at 696-3800 for free copies of the Remodelers® Council Directory and the brochure “How to Choose a remodeler.”

Jana Ward of Clear Choice Flooring and Design is a former president of the Greater San Antonio Builders Association Remodelers® Council.

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