We are starting to notice and internalize that we are going to live a lot longer than anyone thought.
And the odds keep going up. In 1972 here in the states, the average years left, after turning 85, was 5.5 years. By 2010 that had jumped to 6.5, which is impressive!
Partly due to a reduction in smoking, elder adults are just healthier and more aware than their parents.
Medicine is better, food choices are improving.
Yet we are not going to have the right housing for these older adults. First the major location is in the suburbs, so getting around is not easy. Add upstairs bedrooms, a walk to the mailbox, a lawn to care for, and you have a situation most fragile 85 year olds can’t handle.
They need less space, curb free showers, ground floor living, stepless entries, wide halls and easy to access and use light fixtures and door levers. Knobs are too hard to turn with decreased flexibility and wrist strength. They need hearing impaired phones and lots of sunlight to see indoors. They need a SIMPLE TV. Turn on, turn off.
Next we need granny units and lots of them.
And when Granny sells her 3 bedroom 2.5 bath home with a big yard in the suburbs, will there be enough Millenials to take up that housing stock? That’s not clear yet. The Millenials are delaying marriage and kids or opting out completely for self expressed lives traveling and building careers. Additionally they love the action and ease of city life. Grab a cab, jump to the next party, walk to work. Public transportation.
The suburbs? Ah, maybe not so much for that generation.
The demographics are changing as fast as the culture , and it’s hard to see where it’s all going to go.
But for sure we need to stop building the same kinds of neighborhoods, with the same old amenities.
Builders need to rethink “community” and build smarter homes that appeal to all age groups.
Here are some cool ideas:
Automatic dustpans under cabinet edge
Foot controls for faucets
Community centers with grills, ovens, tables, lights, music
Smart lighting with motion detectors throughout the house
Smart heating and cooling by room
Pot fillers over stove, no lugging heavy pans of water
Levers for doorknobs combat loss of dexterity
Lower sink with open space accommodates a wheel chair
Smart ovens that turn off by themselves after 1 hour.
Makes notes about what isn’t working, and what is working!
Send me your ideas!