Throughout their lives, baby boomers have viewed the world and lived
their lives differently than other generations. So itís not surprising
that as they reach middle age, their dream retirement home also differs
that of their predecessors.
Many boomers arenít planning to downscale after they retire, or at least
not to the extent that their parents and grandparents did. Todayís
middle aged population is accustomed to larger homes. According to
Association of Home Builders, the average size of new American homes
has doubled in the last half century (from 983 square feet in 1950
to 2,225 square feet in 1999).
Thatís not to say boomers arenít planning for the future
in practical ways. As boomers in their 40s and 50s are becoming
empty nesters, more
and more of them are choosing flexible homes that will allow them
age in place. These are some of the amenities these buyers are looking
general, this group wants houses that will meet their needs if
their mobility becomes impaired as they age, but they donít want
special accommodations to be obvious. Open floor plans, wider hallways
and 30-inch (minimum) doorways make homes appealing without giving
them an ďold folksĒ look. This can be accomplished in smaller homes
by creating fewer, larger rooms.
the same way, oversized windows make
a home bright and airy, while providing
the extra light that may be necessary
as visual acuity decreases. Task lighting
should also be added in work areas in
the kitchen and garage.
boomers look forward to having more time for extended
family gatherings and entertaining friends, adequate
dining space is especially important. Given the choice
between a formal living or dining room, most will
choose the dining room.
appreciate having at least one room situated so that it can
be used for different purposes as their needs change, such
as a room that could be used as a den, living room or a guest
the past, the standard retirement home was a 1-story. Today,
many buyers are also choosing 1 Ĺ story homes because they
are more economical and still provide a main floor master suite,
plus extra upstairs bedrooms for visits from grown children.
master bedroom should be large enough to accommodate a wheelchair
after furniture is in place. The master bath should also have
ample clearance, plus a walk-in shower, preferably with a built-in
seat. Special supports should be added behind walls during
construction where grab bars might be installed should the
need arise. Lever spigots are easier to use than knobs at any
age, but especially helpful for hands weakened by arthritis.
Slip-resistant flooring is also important.
should have room for a wheelchair to move around freely. Side-by-side
refrigerator/freezers and side-swing or wall ovens are easier
for someone in a wheelchair to use. Microwaves should be at
counter height or in a wall. Cabinet heights and provisions
such as pull-down shelving can be adjusted and added as the
laundry room should also be on the main floor. A folding counter
and window will make laundry tasks easier and more pleasant.
Home buyers looking ahead may want to select front-loading
washers and dryers and consider having them raised 12 to 15
inches off the floor.
least one outside entrance should have a zero clearance. Commonly,
the entrance from the garage accomplishes this, providing convenience
to people of any age bringing groceries in from the car. A rear
porch (with no steps) is another popular feature for folks who
have time to stop and smell the roses.
leading to a second floor or the basement
should be four feet wide, in a straight
run, to ease installation of a chair
lift. Or, closets should be stacked on
both floors to allow for an elevator
in the future.
should be at least 22 feet wide (for a double garage)
with an adequate access aisle around vehicles.
If baby boomers do some extra planning when they
build a home, they can eliminate the need to move or renovate
their home in ten or fifteen years. Incorporating these extra features
during construction is much easier and less expensive than after
the home has been built. And with 85 million aging baby boomers,
this is an excellent way to improve a homeís resale value.